Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017

HCEF awards first mega grants

For the first year since its inception in 1996, the Harvard Community Education Foundation has the means to award mega grants to educators.

The accomplishment is due to the fact that the foundation reached $1 million in an endowment fund last year – a goal of the foundation since it first came into being.

The plan was that, when the million dollar mark was attained, the endowment fund would provide additional grant money that could be distributed based on a later devised disbursement policy. After the foundation achieved its goal last year, a disbursement policy was put into place that will allow the organization to award annual mega grants into perpetuity, using just the investment interest earned and not dipping into the principal.

Jackie Fiegel, who has worked HCEF for five years and took on the role of president this year, is happy to be on board as the foundation launches the distribution of the mega-grant awards.

“We are an excellent organization of amazing volunteers working toward a common cause,” she said. “The foundation works with the district to determine many projects or programs that meet the strategic goals of the district. From there, the Mega Grant Committee determines which projects best match the goals of the foundation, [and] a grant application is then completed by each project or group.”

Though the foundation will continue to award mini grants to educators for special, smaller projects, mega grants are designed to support strategically important projects that are educational in nature and purpose in Harvard School District 50 and the city of Harvard.

Several mega grants were awarded so far this year.

Some of the grants will go toward the following: providing high school science data collection equipment; an activity bus for elementary schools; a media lab at Harvard High School, which may also be used by staff from all schools and students from the high school, junior high school and Jefferson Elementary School; the FOCUS program, which will help assist Latino and underrepresented students in the current or future transition from high school to college; and a Spanish language library for Crosby Elementary School.

Judy Floater, principal at Jefferson Elementary School, said she was pleased with the mega grant of $4,654 her school recently received for a special project.

“We applied for a grant to get a bus to take students [who participate in after-school activities] home,” Floater said, adding the school also applied to see if the program would have an impact on students.

Though the initial grant application was for two buses two days per week, Floater was happy the school was able to secure a grant that still will provide one bus one day a week.

“The bus will be shared between Crosby Elementary and our school,” she said. “Different [programs] could now be available after school.”

Floater also added that she is appreciative of how much HCEF has assisted Jefferson Elementary School in general.

“They really help us do things we would not ordinarily have the money to do,” she said. “The mini grants they’ve given for things like theater, mics and headsets and field trips are the kinds of things they have been supplying us with every year. They’ve been wonderful.”