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Lake Washington Schools Foundation awards $220,000 to school district
When Lake Washington students return to school this fall, they will be able to build robots, use a 3-D printer and learn how to prevent bullying because of extra funding provided to the school district by Lake Washington Schools Foundation. For the 2014-2015 school year, the Foundation granted the district nearly $220,000 to support district-wide initiatives and provide classroom tools that will help students succeed.
“Lake Washington Schools Foundation is a key partner for the Lake Washington School District," Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce said, They help us build pathways to student success by funding programs that would not be possible without their support.”
A $10,000 grant will help students access learning opportunities through the Access Fund. This fund enables low-income middle and high school students to get the most out of school by providing scholarships to pay for school-related supplies, fees and extracurricular activities. A major Access Fund expense is for online classes, which help students who are behind in their classes to graduate. Often these kids are the first in their family to graduate from high school.
The Access Fund has played an important role in many students’ lives by keeping them engaged in school and by paying for opportunities that kids from higher income families often take for granted. The fund helped 2011 Redmond High School graduate Myeka Powers discover her love for the business world by funding her participation in the DECA business program. “Because of the Access Fund I was able to participate in DECA, which made my high school experience one of a kind, said Powers.
Another $10,000 Foundation grant will support the new Safe Schools Ambassador (SSA) Program, which will help create a positive and safe school climate. The Foundation believes that all students should have access to learning opportunities. Bullying and harassment can seriously inhibit learning by contributing to dropouts, absenteeism, and academic underachievement.
This field-tested and evidence-based anti-bullying program will be implemented in Juanita, Eastlake, and Tesla STEM High Schools and the International Community School. Student leaders will be trained to work with mentor adults in order to resolve conflicts and to support excluded students. This will lead to a more positive school atmosphere, which will positively impact the entire community.
Because every student deserves a high quality teacher, Lake Washington Schools Foundation is funding the district’s New Teacher Support Program for second year teachers with a grant of $18,000. Being a new teacher can be overwhelming and stressful. The program provides teachers with a guiding mentor and extra training. It has been shown to improve student achievement, accelerate professional growth and save school districts money by reducing attrition. The Foundation stepped in to fill the funding gap after state funding for the second year of the program was discontinued.
“Without the program, my first two years would have been a lot tougher," Smith Elementary School teacher Lucy Coffey said. "Had I not had that support, I would have felt like I was drowning and overwhelmed by the amount of work. My consulting teacher kept me afloat and helped me feel successful during those first two years. The better teacher you have, the more success the students will have.”
All Lake Washington schools are eligible to apply for the Foundation’s Reaching for Success (RFS) grants. The grants provide up to $3,000 per applicant and give classrooms and schools tools to enrich learning. This year, the Foundation is granting over $83,000 to 30 different schools. Grants will fund things such as a 3-D printer at Redmond Middle School, the popular IXL online math program at 10 elementary and middle schools, Eastlake High School’s robotics club, and the “LW After Hours” tutoring program at Lake Washington High School. Each year, the Foundation receives more grant applications than the last. It is not able to fund all of the worthy projects and more donations from the community would help it put more innovative tools into classrooms.
With a $25,000 grant, the Foundation continues to support the STEM-based Signature Programs, available this year in all seven of the district’s high schools. In these programs, students investigate, innovate and think critically while solving real-world problems. Signature Program interdisciplinary courses focus on topics such as global health, sustainability and engineering and provide career pathways through industry-based projects.
The LINKS mentoring and tutoring program received $72,500.This program is run by the school district and the Foundation has supported it since 2007. LINKS volunteers spend one hour per week in classrooms as mentors, tutors and classroom helpers. Volunteers enjoy building a trusting relationship with a child.
“One hour a week is not a lot of time to give, but it feels important to the students I have worked with to have an adult who cares about them, not as a friend or a teacher or parent, but as an advocate, someone who is on their side rooting for them,” said Tonya Wishart, a lunch buddy at Horace Mann and Albert Einstein Elementary Schools.
Currently, LINKS has many students in all grade levels ready to be matched with a volunteer mentor.
Community members interested in investing in student growth and success are encouraged to take part in the Foundation’s fall campaign, “Our Kids, Our Future – It’s Up to Us,” by making a donation at www.lwsf.org/donate or by giving to Lake Washington Schools Foundation through their United Way or workplace giving campaign.
For more information about specific grants and other programs funded by the Foundation, visit www.lwsf.org/programs.