The Mini and Mega Grant Programs

MINI & MEGA GRANT AWARDS FOR the 2024-2025 School  YEAR-$79,206.00

This year between the Mini (less than $1500) and Mega grant programs, the Harvard Community Education Foundation (HCEF) awarded funding for 11 Mini grants & 12 Mega grants totaling $79,206.  Congratulations to the teachers and other Dist. 50 staff who took the time and made the effort to submit an application and who received grant funding. The Harvard Community Education Foundation (HCEF) was not able to fund all the grants submitted this year, but 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 students in Harvard schools. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

The Harvard Community Education Foundation’s (HCEF) Mini grant committee & Mega grant committee are pleased to announce the following winners for the 2024-2025 academic school year:


Reality Story Paying Bills- Harvard Junior High School; Jeff Fisher & Catherine Ryan- $800- This grant will fund a “Reality Store” experience for all 8th grade students. The Reality Store is an interactive, hands-on activity which introduces students to the reality of budgeting and actually paying for monthly expenses. During this two-hour life skills simulation, each student will receive the cash equivalent of a monthly salary for a selected career and will use that money in the Reality Store to pay for typical living expenses such as housing, food, transportation, utilities, insurance and child care. The goal is to give the students a true to life experience of paying bills and staying within a budget. This fits into the curriculum for Career Explorations class.

Inclusive Green & Growing Classroom- Circle Drive Project Coordination- Harvard Junior High School; Jessica Wolf & Susan Iles- $1000- This grant will fund supplies necessary to transform the circle driveway at the Harvard Junior High. The Life Skills and STEM students will plan, create, install, and maintain a garden space that currently provides no function and is under utilized. Over time, this area will be transformed to include vegetable plants, landscape plants, a walking path, and table area. This will create a beautiful landscape while also providing practical and functional skills to students with regards to designing, planting, and maintaining green space. Other classes could potentially participate as well. This grant will fund the gardening tools and plants that will allow this transformation to take place.

Utility Carts for UFLI (University of Florida Learning Institute) Reading Program- Crosby Elementary School; Kelly Garay- $371- This grant will fund four utility carts to hold the necessary student resources and records for the UFLI program.  The students sit in four groups, allowing a cart for each group. The carts will contain files for each individual student’s progress within the UFLI program. This will then be readily accessible to each student at their workspace, allowing them to set goals for mastering literacy skills. There will also be room on the carts to store other materials needed, such as game pieces, dice, and flashcards. This grant will allow for better organization and a more streamlined system in accessing necessary resources, reducing the amount of wasted classroom time spent finding what is needed. This will be a great opportunity for the students to chart their own progress and master new skills!

LCD Writing Tablets- Jefferson School; Erin Kruckenberg- $750- This grant will fund LCD 16 inch writing tablets for class participation and teacher formative assessments.  Each day is filled with opportunities for students to show their work, brainstorm, give feedback and ask questions. Currently, students use small whiteboards that have dry erase markers and other students use paper. By replacing the whiteboards and paper, the goal is to create equity for all students to have the same device to use during the day. Students would be able to show their work for math, write down questions as they read, create and list to help organize themselves for going home or for the next day. The tablets eliminate the need for the purchase of dry erase markers and white boards. Tablets would provide a quick place for the teacher to do a formative assessment of all students without the use of paper. Students can display work, rate their understanding, respond to questions and give feedback on activities. The use of the writing tablet in the class would provide so many opportunities for students and teachers, eliminate waste and cut back on supply costs.

Jet DC Dust Collector- Harvard High School; Mike Stumpf- $1230- This grant will fund a Jet DC dust collector for the Building, Trades, and Welding Program. These devices are used to collect and remove harmful fumes and matter produced from manufacturing and production processes, and to purify and filter dust particulates that are released. The dust collector will greatly improve the cleanliness of the shop and impact the air quality throughout the department as well. This will improve the work environment and enhance safety for the faculty and students at Harvard High School.

Calming Corner- Washington School; Tabitha Sarbaugh- $979- This grant will fund an update to the calming corners/centers in each of the classrooms at Washington School to help encourage healthy social-emotional learning (SEL) growth.  Students are in need of a safe space to take a break when they are feeling upset or angry. A calming corner offers sensory items, relaxing seating, and tips to help them calm down. Students at the Pre-K level have a tremendous amount of emotions and SEL is a major part of the day and curriculum. Teachers within the school will be able to set up their own classrooms how they feel will be most impactful. This will benefit all students at Washington school.

Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics- Harvard Junior High School; Shanda Schwartz- $400- This grant will fund a project inspired by the book "Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics" by Peter Liljedahl.  This learning strategy allows students to work in collaborative groupings to learn math concepts through inquiry and discourse. When students are working together in collaborative groups, they will be using alternative workspaces to increase student involvement, engagement, and risk-taking. Instead of students sitting at desks during this time, they will be working on thinking tasks at vertical or horizontal whiteboards that will be stationed around the room.  These thinking tasks will be created from the math curriculum and give students the opportunity to explore the math concept with their peers and then discuss or showcase their work with the teacher and the class to solidify their thinking. This project will not only increase students' thinking ability, but it will increase their self-efficacy and self-confidence to become better mathematical thinkers.

Picnic Tables- Harvard Junior High School; Taylor Koester- $600- This grant will fund two picnic tables for students to enjoy during their recess hours. Currently, weather permitting, when students are finished eating lunch they are allowed to go outside if they choose for a recess. There is a small amount of equipment available for them, such as soccer balls, footballs and volleyballs. Unfortunately this does not meet the needs of all of the students as many don't get to use the equipment. Purchase of the picnic tables allows students the option to go outside and enjoy the benefits of being outdoors but do not wish to physically participate. Students can sit together, conversate, or play other games at the tables. The space and tables could also be used by individual classes or smaller groups outside of the lunch period. It allows our students to hit that reset button and refocus themselves on academics as they have a chance to eat lunch and enjoy outdoor time. This would be available for all Junior High students.

Return to Recess- Harvard Junior High School; Andrew Nicky- $500- This grant will fund some outdoor equipment and totes to be used by the Harvard Junior High Students during their recess time. The equipment will keep the students physically engaged and socially active with their peers. The current equipment needs to be replaced. By providing better recess resources, students can expend their energy outside of the classroom, leaving the precious class time for engagement and instruction. This is one way to enhance the experience of the students at the Junior High, to improve morale and interest in coming to school.

Stencils for Black Top Painting- Washington School; Maggie Binz & Dena Denny- $1070- This grant will fund stencils for black top painting at Washington School. This summer, the plan is to have the playground blacktop resurfaced. While this will look wonderful and provide a nice smooth surface for our students, we think we can enhance the project further by adding painted activities to the surface. Adding activities like hopscotch, number grids, obstacle course, balance lines, and more will provide our students with even more opportunities to build upon their physical skills while also allowing them choice and play. Each day, students have a 30-minute block dedicated to gross motor activities. This time allows students to not only play and get fresh air, but to build their gross motor skills such as balancing, running, climbing, hopping, and throwing, catching, etc. Additionally, all day long we are working to incorporate SEL skills, communication, literacy, and math. Painting number lines, hopscotch, letters and shapes on our playground will provide opportunities to integrate multiple skills in a fun way. Since we are a neighborhood school, we have many students in the area use our playground in the evenings and weekends, too. The learning activities will be beneficial to all who come to play at Washington.

Bunny Assisted Interventions- Jefferson School; Erika Coffer- $1300- This grant will partially fund new hutches and a shed for the bunnies at Jefferson school and a raised garden bed. Bunny assisted interventions have been proven to help decrease stress and anxiety in children which in turn leads to improving the efficacy of the educational ability of teachers. All students and staff are impacted at Jefferson. The 4th and 5th grade students have the opportunity to earn bunny time with their Bee bucks. During their time together, they can hold the bunnies, play with bunnies, give them hugs, talk to the bunnies along with asking questions and learning about the bunnies. Whether students and staff watch the bunnies from afar as they hop in the courtyard or spend time with them up close and personal, there is a sense of joy, curiosity and even a potential way to decompress. By taking care of and providing for the bunnies, students have the opportunity to gain responsibility skills along with a sense of belonging and ownership. This experience also helps the Jefferson students learn and grow.


CNC Router Kit - HHS Mike Stumpf-Metals $9000.

Purchase an Avid CNC machine that is a high-precision computer-controlled cutting tool.  It is designed to perform complex milling, drilling and cutting tasks on a variety of materials.  The CNC will provide 200-300 students with experience in manufacturing, design software and production at an industrial and manufacturing level.

Growing Harvard’s Own Educators – HHS – Amanda Christofalos $2000

Educators Rising is a new Chapter which is partnered with Aurora University.  They are focused on cultivating a new generation of highly skilled educators by guiding young people on a path from high school through college and into their teaching careers, with the hope that many of them will return to teach in Harvard School District 50.  Seed money for this idea will be used for resources materials, guest speakers, and technological support.

Audio Video Recording Studio – HHS – Michael Wargaski, Dylan Schmidt, Jose Portillo, Robert Lush, Kory Coffer, Catherine Hicks, $5073

Funding will be used to create a student reporting lab/recording studio in conjunction with existing equipment.  Approximately 60 students, with the support of several academic disciplines and teachers, will have new opportunities in and exposure to video production (Vlog, YouTube, diy), sports casts, club activities, musical recording and production. 

Stem Robotics – Crosby – Kelly LaSota $3000

Ozobots will provide STEM hands-on experience to 480 young students.  Children will have the opportunity to construct and code screen-free using color cods and online with Blockly.

Choir/Band HHS Music Trip –HHS – Corey Coffer & Catherine Hicks $8925

To assist all high school band and choir students wishing to attend the Hawaii trip in 2025.  Trip exposes new cultures and life-changing performance opportunities, as well as expose these students to the history of the Dec. 7th attack on Pearl Harbor.  Trip includes performances at the USS Battleship Missouri and at Pearl Harbors Aviation Museum, a commemorative flag presentation and a tour of Honolulu.

Business Professionals of America (BPA) – State & National Competitions Support– HHS – Amy Meza & Kyle Valkema  $9600

BPA enrolled students have the opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge in practical settings.  State & national BPA competitions allow students to engage in real-world business scenarios, fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills.  Additional these students are involved with supporting the Harvard Community Education Foundation with its social media marketing & public relations efforts as part of their real world experiences.

Journalsim Laptops – HHS – Dylan Schmidt, Nick Miller, Joe Treml $5300

Funds will be used to acquire two professional-grade laptops for the Journalism Classroom to be used particularly for publishing the school newpaper and senior slideshow project.  These  laptops will allow students to use sophisticated software which challenges their creativity to the maximum possible and thus elevates student learning and engagement through innovative digital media production.

Bringing the Bass – Crosby – Christine Ruggles $3729

Crosby students will utilize Orff-based, music education through the bass bars. Student will learn the complex melodic soprano part, the color parts, as well as the foundation of the musical piece – its steady beat.

Stem Lego Engineering – Jefferson – Riley Baseley, Sabrina Duszak, Monica Murillo Villagomez-$4799

This money will be used to purchase Lego Education Spike Essential kits.  Children will develop fine motor skills while constructing and coding with these education tools collaboratively.

Hearing the Titanic’s Stories to Help Tell Our Own –HJH – Sarah Hiteroth and Andrew Nicky $3000

This money, in conjunction with D50 fieldtrip funding, will allow 215 Jr. High students to embark on a fieldtrip to the Volo auto museum to view the new exhibit featuring stores from the Titanic.  After listening to stories told about the survivors and victims the students will return and immerse themselves in a cross-curricular educational event.   Students will adopt a historical character and research and design artifact to help tell the story.  A museum will be constructed to display during parent-teacher conferences.

DUO Program – HHS –Maura Bridges-$15,779

This money will support continued funding though 6/30/2025 for the program that permits high school students to graduate, tuition free, with a two-year Associate of Arts degree from McHenry Community College while also working to graduate from Harvard High School.  District 50 and McHenry County College also contribute money to make this tuition-free opportunity possible.

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