The Hampshire County Community Foundation is currently accepting applications for its 9th round of Mini-Grants to Teachers. The online application is available here: https://www.ewvcf.org/grants-hampshire/
For the past eight years, the Community Foundation has been providing mini-grants to local teachers ranging in size from $75 to $500 (or $1,000 for collaborative projects). The purpose of the program is to show appreciation for the dedication and efforts of our local teachers, and provide them with a few extra resources to help them engage their students in new and creative ways.
“The program has grown steadily, with more teachers applying and more grants being awarded each year,” said Amy Pancake, the Foundation’s director. “In 2014, we awarded 13 grants totaling $3,200. Last year, we awarded 44 grants totaling over $20,000.”
In 8 years, the Community Foundation has provided 209 grants totaling $59,000 through this program. Recently, grants have helped teachers purchase materials and resources for a classroom STEM lab, a metal detector for hands-on teaching of Hampshire County history, materials to build a simulated ambulance for an Emergency Medical Services class, wireless headphones to set up a listening center, Choices Magazines as an addition to textbooks and lecture for presenting health information, and sensory manipulatives that promote curiosity and critical thinking skills, to name a few.
Kristian Haines, an art teacher at Romney Middle School, used a mini grant to purchase a variety of art materials in response to student requests to experience different types of art-making. She noticed that many students were using art to express their feelings about and process the challenges resulting from Covid-19 and wanted to give them multiple mediums for this expression. She reported an increase in student engagement with the addition of the new materials. Students were thrilled to be able to create pottery and use a new printmaking technique to create colorful self-portraits. Several pieces of artwork were entered in the Hampshire County Public Library’s annual art show.
Kristy Cheshire purchased flexible seating options for her kindergartners. According to Cheshire, making the environment as comfortable and fun as possible and giving her students opportunities to make small choices helps them feel safe and loved, which is very conducive to learning.
Amanda Whitacre purchased STEM Solar Car kits for her 8th grade science class. Since Covid, the hands-on activities her students enjoyed doing as a way to review content haven’t been possible. The individual Solar Car kits allowed the students to review electrical circuits, radiation, and the scientific method. They also provided an opportunity to explore engineering and the benefits of solar power.
Based on reports submitted by teachers, the Community Foundation estimates that these small grants have impacted 8,700 students. Additionally, many of the resources provided by the grants can be used year after year, so they will continue to benefit countless more!
“We feel strongly that these mini grants do more than help provide some much needed and relevant resources and opportunities for our teachers and students. They also shine a positive light on education in Hampshire County, specifically the dedication and ingenuity of so many of our teachers and their enthusiasm when they have engaged even their most reluctant learners when given the tools to do so,” said Pancake.
The Mini Grants to Teachers program is supported primarily by the Foundation’s Partners in Philanthropy, corporate sponsors whose annual gifts support the Foundation in a variety of ways. Support also comes from a distribution from the Hampshire County Education Fund, Hampshire County Schools, and individual donors.
Pancake said the Community Foundation plans to continue this program as long as there’s public support and teacher interest. “We are also committed to growing the Hampshire County Education Fund, which can provide funding support for a wide range of education initiatives beyond the Mini Grants for Teachers program.”
Making a gift of support for this program is easy (and tax deductible). Checks may be payable and mailed to: HCCF, PO Box 40, Romney, WV 26757 with “Teacher Grants” in the memo, or donors may make an on-line gift here: https://www.ewvcf.org/donate/ and select the Hampshire County Education Fund from the drop-down menu.
For more information about the Mini Grants to Teachers program, or the Community Foundation’s other programs, please call Amy at 304-822-7200.