NEF awarded $13,350 in funds to 8 grant recipients in September of 2021.
Fundraisers in 2020-21 included the Welcome Back Pinwheels, Holiday Warm Wishes, Virtual Team Trivia, and Golden Apple Appreciation Gifts. Unfortunately, NEF was unable to hold all of the in-person events due to COVID. Proceeds from these events enabled NEF to fully or partially approve funding for the grants funded this year. The funds raised through the Welcome Back Pinwheels was used to fund a second round of mini-grants that were awarded in November of 2020.
This year’s awarded grants are as follows:
Colors: A Year of Exploring Identity, Community and Change Through the Arts
Julie Morancy – Melican
The Colors project is a year-long experience whose mission is to deliver SEL content through the arts, with a focus on exploring identity and celebrating our community of diverse individuals. Students will explore difficult issues like racism, intolerance, and social justice by listening to the voices of others–artists, poets, actors, musicians–as well as the experiences of our own classmates and teachers. Through various activities and projects, each student will get to express who they are as individuals and open their minds to different viewpoints and perspectives. This grant will provide art supplies, instant cameras, books and curriculum, an iPad and various other supplies to support these projects.
Culturally Responsive Libraries / Elementary Librarians Read Across Northborough
Joanne Giancola, Clare Kelsey, Leigh King, MaryEllen Remillard – All Elementary
This grant will provide the funds for the elementary school librarians to purchase books that will improve and enhance the libraries’ collections. It is essential that a school library reflects the community it serves and promotes empathy and understanding through reading about other cultures. These new books will help to ensure that we are fostering culturally responsive and inclusive communities and that all our students feel welcome and can see themselves reflected in the characters and situations presented in the books. These books will also provide the material for the “Read Across America Through Colorful Pages” program in March. This national event promotes a love of reading by inviting members of our community (high school students, business owners, educators, and others) to visit elementary classrooms to share books and engage in meaningful conversations.
Filling Our Rooms with Beautiful and Diverse Literature
Jessica Alderman – Peaslee
This grant will help fill the Peaslee classroom shelves with beautiful and diverse contemporary literature to assist students in appreciating and interacting with multicultural perspectives and experiences. These books will be integrated into lessons surrounding point of view, themes, character traits, cause and effect, inference, and main idea while at the same time widening students’ perspectives of children, families and places of diverse people and cultures. Ultimately, these resources will help students both grow as readers and writers and strengthen their connections with their classmates, school community and world around them.
Hearing Protection for Music Class
Scott Arnold – Zeh
The purchase of noise reduction headphones will allow all students to experience creating and performing at the same level of participation. In a classroom of over 20 students, it is challenging for students to practice their instrumental or vocal pieces at a confident volume while respecting the hearing of others. This grant will provide the means for students with varying auditory sensitivities to participate safely and productively in music class with the ultimate goal of feeling comfortable performing both in class and on stage.
MMS Little Free Diverse Library
Julie Morancy – Melican
These funds will help to kickstart a Little Free Library for Melican staff to share a variety of books that relate to the themes of anti-racism, social justice, disability awareness/advocacy, culturally responsive teaching, and stories of/by people from various cultures and backgrounds. For years, the Melican staff has engaged in professional development, book clubs and webinars surrounding these issues, and this is another way to provide opportunities to engage in these important discussions and ultimately, to integrate these themes into their curriculum.
MMS World Languages Library
Janice Bisset, Catherine Arcona, Loni Sotir – Melican
This grant will provide funds to start a multilingual library at Melican. The books purchased will be written in the languages that our English Learner (EL) students arrive with and continue to live with at home. Many of these students arrive with a love of reading that is stifled by the lack of books available in their primary languages. Searching for materials in the public libraries is very difficult for them as the number of titles is extremely limited. By providing these books, we can encourage a continued love of reading in our new English Leaners as well as help our multilingual students to not lose their fluency in all their languages. Additionally, our English-speaking students will benefit from primary titles that help them learn a second language and will also recognize familiar favorites like Harry Potter and Diary of a Wimpy Kid in many different languages.
NEF Helps with Maneuvering the Middle
Melissa Jameson – Melican
This grant provides Digital Math Activity Bundles for all the middle school math teachers. Other resources from Maneuvering the Middle proved invaluable to the teachers during their year of remote and hybrid learning. They have embraced the new technology and are building upon their resources to help provide activities that are engaging and interactive for students and that provide instant, detailed feedback for teachers.
360 Degree Listening in Music
Scott Arnold – Zeh
In the music classroom, it is very important for students to develop a sense of how to critically listen to music. This grant will fund the purchase of a high-quality surround sound system so all students can experience the music in the way it was intended to be heard.