The Mega-Grant Program

The Harvard Community Education Foundation (HCEF) Mini & Mega grant programs for the 2021-22 Harvard District 50 (D50) school year were greatly impacted, as many things were, by the Covid pandemic.  Teachers were focused on and occupied with teaching remotely.  This remote learning process was all consuming and left little remaining energy for other matters.  Thus the completed applications for HCEF grant funding for the 2021-22 academic year were few compared to previous years.  

In spite of the trying times for teachers and the unknowns regarding the 2021-22 school year, some teachers and D50 staff members did find the time and energy to submit grant applications, of which the HCEF did fund 2 Mini grants and 2 Mega grants totaling $17,101.  Eight additional HCEF Mini & Mega grant applications were able to be funded, in the D50 final review process, by D50 money, which totaled an additional $8104 of grant requests.  

Whatever the source of funding, the HCEF grant committees are pleased that the grant process brings to the forefront needs that teachers and other D50 staff have to better support the educational curriculum and process for the students enrolled in the district’s schools, especially during these trying pandemic times.

Funding the Duo Program:

With regard to the 2021-22 Mega grant funding, the HCEF would like to highlight one of the Mega grants that was funded.  It is called the Duo Program.  The Duo Program is a program that makes it possible for some students to graduate from Harvard High School with both a high school diploma and an Associate of Arts degree from McHenry Community College (MCC).  By funding available from among the HCEF, D50, and MCC, any tuition cost for the Duo Program that normally would be paid by the student will be paid from among the three sources previously mentioned.  Thus the Harvard high school students enrolled in the Duo Program will incur no college tuition costs.  

The HCEF has made a financial commitment over the next three academic school years (2021thru 2024) to fund up to $50,000 of tuition costs for Harvard high school students enrolled in the Duo Program who meet certain financial needs criteria established by D50.  For the 2021-22 school year, the commitment by the HCEF is $10,000, and $20,000 per year for the following 2 academic years.  The first cohort of students for the 2021-22 school year will be 15 in number, with an additional cohort of 15 students to be added in 2022-23 and each year thereafter.  Thus the Duo Program plan is to have a total of 30 Harvard high school students (juniors & seniors) enrolled in 2022-23 and each year thereafter.

The HCEF is pleased to be a financial part of this pilot program and is certain the money will be well spent to fulfill its mission to “…encourage the Harvard community to support quality education of its children by enriching and expanding learning opportunities.”

The second Mega grant application funded for the 2021-22 school year is:  Heart Rate Monitors-High School; Sara Weaver, (Division Chair for Science, Agriculture, Physical Ed., & Health),  $4801.00 -This grant will pay for 60 Polar heart rate monitors and 50 replacement armbands.  This is Part 2 of a grant request that funded 90 Polar heart rate monitors in 2020-21.  Via the use of these heart monitors, students will come to understand the overall importance of heart health, as well as learn the importance of being physically active at different levels of intensity.  It will give students the opportunity to develop lifelong health & fitness habits.  PE teachers will also have an objective method to assess student heart health and be able to individualize/personalize instruction based on each student’s cardio/respiratory fitness in PE courses.  Once implemented, PE teachers will utilize the heart rate monitors and fitness tracking software for years to come.

Update on the Digital Photography course

For the 2019-20 school year, the foundation in conjunction with D50, purchased equipment to start a high school digital photography course.  The items purchased by the foundation included digital cameras, the Adobe photo-editing software for 20 computers for 1 year, a wireless photo printer, 2 Nikon 70-300mm macro zoom lenses, and miscellaneous other supplies required to offer a digital photography course at the high school level.  

There are numerous fields that incorporate photography skills such as advertising, marketing, film, art director, and fashion designers and thus teaching a solid foundation in lighting, composition, and camera operations is a priority for any student who might have an interest in any of those fields.  The course is offered in two sessions currently, which allows 60 students to gain exposure to these photography skills.  The students learn skills in lighting, printing, photo editing, and several other aspects leading to opportunities for advanced visual arts programs at the college level.  

The following example pictures were taken and made by students enrolled in the Digital Photography course offered by the Harvard high school art department:

Previous Mega-Grant Project Winners

Pictured above are the previous Mega grant winners from Crosby Elementary School, with (left) Mimi Book, chair of the Mega grant committee & Andy McCauley, also a Mega grant committee member
Click here to see the happy faces of Crosby School kids using new musical instruments purchased with Mega grant funds awarded to music teachers Spencer Kibbler & Juan Osorio.

Mega-Grant Winners for 2020-21

$25,410.00 total awarded to 5 winners

Focus/Motor Room-Washington; Cheryl Stasiek Ashburn-$4951-This grant will provide specifically designed space to facilitate restorative processes for very young students who need a break to refocus or are not meeting school expectations.  The space provides a range of stimuli to help students develop and engage senses to allow them to “reset” their nervous system which may have been overstimulated in the classroom environment.  This room will provide staff and students with a safe area where students can focus on themselves so they can be better prepared for learning and interacting with others.  The equipment includes an autism swing stand (C-stand) with a linear motion bar swing and a “flying purple people eater” swing, a fold & go trampoline, and a kid garage.

Professional Grade 3D printer-Jr. High; Steve Darschewski-$5000-This grant will purchase a Fusion 3, 3D printer and supplies so Jr. High students can receive a hands-on approach to design thinking and which demonstrates to them the application of technology and engineering in the classroom through the use of a 3D printer.  Students can be taught about the use & development of prosthetics in medicine, can make textbook models of molecules, can create busts of historical & literary figures, make 3D printed snowflakes, etc.  Students can have their “eyes opened” by the 3D printing experience and the various practical applications for its use in many fields.

Go Zone/Sensory Room-Jr. High; Tom Cardamone & Nikki Pierce-$2365-This grant will provide equipment for a sensory room that provides direct therapeutic benefits to students with a variety of special needs and to some students who have sensory challenges but who may not be educationally identified as needing special educational services.  This room is for students who benefit from a “break” within their day, to use tools to regulate their sensory experience, which in turn will regulate their behavior/emotional experience.  It is used to facilitate self-organization, self-regulation, relaxation, and sensory awareness, in order to integrate a student back into the classroom.  The following equipment will be purchased:  wall-mounted kicking pad, soft sensory rocker chair, weighted blankets, a body sock, crash and general floor mats, small trampoline, and a “bubble” tube.

Heart Rate Monitors-High School; Sara Weaver-$8,094-This grant will pay for 90 Polar heart rate monitors, 50 replacement armbands, 3 charging docks, fitness-tracking software, and training for the high school PE teachers.  Via the use of these heart monitors, students will come to understand the overall importance of heart health, as well as learn the importance of being physically active at different levels of intensity.  It will give students the opportunity to develop lifelong health & fitness habits.  PE teachers will also have an objective method to assess student heart health and be able to individualize/personalize instruction based on each student’s cardio/respiratory fitness in PE courses.  Once implemented, PE teachers will utilize the heart rate monitors and fitness tracking software for years to come.

Funding for External Grant Matching-HCEF&Dist.50-Mimi Book & Mary Cooke-$5000-This money is set aside to be used as partial matching for an external grant application currently being written.  The grant total request is for approximately $20,000 of outside funding to be matched by the Foundation’s $5000 for a total of $25,000 to be used for expanding our STEM program offerings in the science curriculum for Jr. High on up.   Experiential hands-on robot building and programming are one of the goals.  STEM engages students and provides opportunity for critical thinking, problem solving, creative and collaborative skills, and establishes connections between the school, work place and community.

The HCEF thanks all of you for taking the time to submit a grant application with the goal of enhancing and enriching learning opportunities for the kids in Harvard schools.

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2018-19 Mega Grant Awards

$45,640 Total awarded to 4 winners

The Harvard Community Education Foundation’s (HCEF) Mega grant committee is pleased to announce the following winners for the 2018-19 academic school year: