Swift Foundation announces 2019 grant recipients
The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation, formed by the owners and founder of Swift Communications, awards grants to programs that promote literacy, reading and writing skills as well as programs that focus on languages, sciences and interdisciplinary areas. Since 2008, more than $620,000 has been awarded to deserving organizations in the communities where Swift Communications conducts business.
More than 185 applications were received for the 2019 grant cycle. The Foundation grant criteria calls for detail about the number of people who will be impacted by the organization’s project and how significant a role the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation will play in the program. Further, applicants must provide a complete description of the project including objectives and strategies to meet those objectives, explain how the project will be evaluated and submit a budget. Recipients will report on their results and insights from their program once the projects are completed.
This year, applications were of exceptional quality and more than $83,156 has been awarded to 37 deserving organizations. The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation thanks the many groups that took the time and energy to apply and encourages those that were not selected to submit applications in the future. Applications will be accepted again starting Jan. 1, 2020, with a deadline of Feb. 15, 2020. For more information, visit the Bessie Minor website at BessieMinorSwift.org.
Homestake Peak School
Purchase of an evidence-based literacy intervention program to support struggling middle school readers. Reading Plus will be used to help over 50 children with their fluency, comprehension, vocabulary and writing while increasing their motivation and confidence.
Programs support adult students who are at the lowest levels of literacy or English speaking proficiencies. Funds will be used to expand the tutoring library, purchase educational learning aids for adult literacy students, consumable textbooks, and to update assessment materials. Volunteer tutors will work with adult students to develop skills in reading, writing, math or ESL. In some Hands-On English classes, students learn about a range of socially and culturally important topics.
Roaring Fork Valley Early Learning Fund
A pilot program, 1-2-3 Let’s Read, to increase the home libraries of young children and provide literacy-building guidance for parents. Children in four preschool classrooms (72 children) will receive a free storybook every month, and parents will receive a custom-designed worksheet of learning activities (in English and Spanish) specific to each book. Teachers will receive custom-designed classroom activities for each book. Foundation funds will provide a direct match to funds from an individual donor allowing the pilot program to reach twice as many children.
Fraser Valley Elementary School
Completion of a collection of third-grade level biographies in the library. Each year, the third grade does a special biography project: they choose a famous person, read a biography, and then create a “wax museum” (the students dress up) of the various figures about whom they have learned. By completing the collections of the series: “Who Was…”, “I Am…”’and “Totally True Adventures”, along with some additional volumes for sports figures, a much richer selection of books can be offered for the students to read about and to help them “become’” the characters in whom they are most interested.
Aspen Art Museum
An expansion of Story Art, a free program that includes storytelling and art making with 180 local, low-income, Spanish-speaking migrant children through collaboration with the nonprofit organization, Valley Settlement. This will allow the program to leverage art to alleviate issues of illiteracy and isolation.
Aspen Center for Environmental Studies
For four Family Science Nights programs at Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale and in RE-2 (Garfield County). ACES offers multi-generational learning for students and their parents, grandparents, and siblings. Over 200 families will participate in Family Science Nights.
Horizons Specialized Services
An Early Intervention Program that encourages language development for children with intellectual or developmental delays or disabilities ages birth to three. Early Intervention builds the foundation of literacy for children with speech/motor delays and those with social-emotional/sensory processing issues. Therapists will engage over 50 children in the area in pretend play and basic concepts of STEM with toys, musical instruments, hand puppets and other materials purchased using these funds.
Mountain Village Montessori Charter School
Students explore and learn the math (circumference, diameter, and radius), fitness, science, research skills, and teamwork while building Grand Shelters Igloos (Grandshelters.com) on school property. Five kits will allow 30 children to work in small groups to learn how to build an Igloo and to study their history, write a book and create a slide show or poster to share.
Steamboat Springs Middle School
A reading promotion program in the Middle School Library emphasizes diversity in reading. Emphasis will be not only on diversity in subject and genre, but stories that include diverse characters and backgrounds. These funds will be used to provide Playaways (audiobooks) paired with print books of the 15-20 most popular books to have risen to popularity out of this program. The books will become a part of the SSMS library collection for 415 students to utilize.
Tread of Pioneers Historical Commission
A newspaper photo archival project. This multi-year project of the museum will preserve, organize, digitize and provide public access to the Steamboat Pilot newspaper photo archive to the general public.
Summit Education Foundation
Summit Books for Kids takes a systems approach to helping children acquire literate behaviors including reading for pleasure and having books of their own at home. Fifty-five children in grades 3-5 at Upper Blue Elementary will be able to acquire eight books over the course of the year with the assistance of their teacher and will have an opportunity to share about their reading at home with their teacher.
Upper Blue Elementary School
High-interest books for all readers, but specifically reluctant readers, in grades 2-5. Funds will purchase classroom libraries for eight classrooms of approximately 160 total students. The focus will be on graphic novels that address everything from humor to friendships and problem solving. Reading scores have been increasing when students are reading consistently.
Silverthorne Elementary School
Incentives to students that encourage them to read at home each night. Reading logs will be used to record time spent reading at home (initialed by parents). If students meet the goal of reading 20 minutes per night, they will receive a free book to add to their personal library. Funding will kick-start the project with the purchase of approximately 140 books.
Ann K. Heiman Elementary School
Purchase of a more diverse and relevant library of class sets of books for novel studies. The fifth grade at Ann K. Heiman Elementary School will teach literacy, social studies and science standards in an integrated way with 15 sets of novels (30 copies of each) that will be available in the library to serve well over 325 students.
Dos Rios Elementary School
Expansion of a Makerspace area set up through a previous grant received from the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation. Some 515 students have created and explored using high and low-tech materials. The next step is to incorporate more technology within the Makerspace area and to expand the ability for students to use their curiosity to create and adapt to various situations. Purchases will include Cubelets Mini Makers and a 3-D printer.
The Boys and Girls Club of Weld County Inc.
Materials for the Kidzlit and Book Club programs that focus on boosting literacy and filling in developmental gaps for members not performing at grade level. Purchases will include books, supplies and field trips. Using varied approaches based on ages, interests, and reading levels, members will gain the skills and confidence they need to be life-long readers.
Scott Elementary School
Engaging and diverse novel reading for use in a single classroom and beyond (serving over 250 students in total). This project will help increase comprehension through discussions in literacy circles and by having a range of novels from history to geography to science for use by those reading at the 2nd to 5th grade levels. Funds will purchase 15 sets of 30 books along with teacher guidebooks.
Milliken Middle School
Odyssey of the Mind teams utilize their project-based learning skills to meet challenges from a nationally designed curriculum on a yearly basis. The program requires students to solve up to five problems that hone STEM standards and encourage creative and imaginative “outside of the box” solutions generated by students themselves. Costs include hardware and wood as well as other materials such as mechanical and electronic components for “robotic vehicles” for multiple teams.
Carson City County
Advocates to End Domestic Violence
An innovative reading program, Lap Time Learning, encourages parents to become actively involved in reading to their children while staying in a 51-bed shelter and to help children to develop a love of reading. Advocates to End Domestic Violence is the only domestic violence program in Carson City, Nevada. Through Lap Time Learning, children in the shelter will choose a book weekly that they can keep. The Parenting Coordinator will work with parents to develop a nightly routine of reading with their children. Funds will be used to purchase age appropriate books.
Grace Bordewich Mildred Bray Elementary
Hands on STEM activities supplement the 5th grade Nevada Computer Science Curriculum. Approximately 120 students will learn to program Tello EDU Drones using an iPad mini. This will provide students with a valuable introduction into several coding languages as well as a chance to collaborate with peers to strategize, problem solve errors in the codes and troubleshoot hardware. Funds will purchase drones, extra propellers and tablets.
Pioneer (Alternative) High School
Conversion of the old student lounge at Pioneer High School into a recording studio. Students will research, order, and install all necessary equipment to create a working recording studio. Additionally, software will be purchased so that students can produce and record their own beats and songs. Funds will all be used for equipment for the recording studio, and elements of the mathematics curriculum along with music education will be integrated into the program.
Pioneer (Alternative) High School
An innovative program encouraging more student engagement in chemistry by tying it to art. Use of materials from the American Chemical Society would show students practical application of chemistry to something many of them are passionate about – art. Funds will be used to purchase art supplies and testing materials to conduct experiments.
J C Fremont Elementary School
Teacher support as they instruct students at the level of complexity required by the Nevada Academic Content Standards for reading and social studies. Funds will be used to purchase primary source kits and allow access to digital materials for use by 16 kindergarten through third grade teachers who will teach 330 children. This program will help children in a school where over 50% of the Kindergarten through third grade students are deficient in reading based on the criteria of the Nevada Read by Grade 3 Act.
Get in the Act! Arts in Action
A two-week interdisciplinary school program scheduled for January 2020 that will advance art and science learning for 300 elementary students at Grace Bordewich Mildred Bray Elementary School in Carson City, NV. Using all their senses in the learning process, students dramatize science concepts in scenes with their peers, quickly connecting these concepts to their everyday world. Because students have a memorable experience acting-out these scenes, they can learn and retain the science content associated with these scenes. All funds will be applied toward direct delivery of the “Get in the Act” Arts in Action program at Bordewich-Bray.
Incline Elementary School
Delivery of a workshop by Get in the Act! Science Theater at Incline Elementary School. Topics will be aligned to Incline Elementary School “STREAM” curriculum and to Next Generation Science Standards. Students participate in single and multi-day topics such as energy, light, rocks, and weather to explore science through word and movement. Funding will provide workshops for over 200 students.
Sierra Nevada Journeys
An estimated 450 children and their families will participate in three Family STEM Nights in northern Nevada. Family STEM Nights invite K-6 students, their parents, and siblings to attend a fun evening with engaging stations that reinforces STEM concepts learned in the classroom and fosters curiosity, innovation, and teamwork. Funds will be used for coordination and delivery of the program, supplies and education team transportation.
El Dorado County
Juvenile Service Council of El Dorado County
South Lake Tahoe
The “Character-Based Literacy’” program, which was designed to serve students who are at serious risk for school failure and antisocial behavior. The program addresses the unique literacy needs of the at-risk and adjudicated youth attending the Blue Ridge Court School located at the Juvenile Treatment Center. Students engage in literature that is not only acceptable for grade level credit, but also engages their imaginations, connects them to characters they care about, and provides opportunities to discuss the value context of the literature. The strategy integrates reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and visually representing the literature. Funds will be used for MP3 players, book titles and an annual fee for the “Character-Based Literacy” program.
Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe
A reading intervention program for Boys and Girls Club members aged six to fourteen who are below State reading standards for their grade. A retired elementary teacher works individually with students who have been identified by their teachers as behind but being capable of reaching grade standard. These students are not engaged in reading intervention in their schools and so they are falling through the cracks. This program was implemented in the fall of 2018 and these funds will help continue it.
Chicago Park Elementary School
Watershed education in the form of a field experience followed by an aquatic biology lab. This project builds upon a previous successful watershed field and lab curriculum in a disadvantaged rural school. Students will receive hands-on, standards aligned watershed science instruction. Funds will provide a comprehensive program to 2nd through 5th grade students that includes instruction, educational materials, and teacher curriculum guides. . After a field trip and lab experiences, all students will write letters about their watershed and exchange letters with students from Clear Creek School.
Clear Creek Elementary School District
Watershed education in the form of a field experience followed by an aquatic biology lab. This project builds upon a previous successful watershed field and lab curriculum in a disadvantaged rural school. Students will receive hands-on, standards aligned watershed science instruction. Funds will provide a comprehensive program to 2nd through 5th grade students that includes instruction, educational materials, and teacher curriculum guides. After a field trip and lab experiences, all students will write letters about their watershed and exchange letters with students from Chicago Park School.
Grass Valley Charter School Foundation
The “STEAM on the Yuba” project will engage students across Nevada County by providing science and engineering tools and lessons to complete the 20-foot scale model of the Yuba River that was recently constructed in the Science Garden at Grass Valley Charter School. This project will add interactive STEAM features to the model. Funds will purchase Pelton Wheel Turbines with DC generators, an air compressor, books concerning hydropower, reusable kits for student-designed water wheels and other miscellaneous supplies.
Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation
The Read Me a Story program, which provides books to children in rural western Nevada County during eight well-child medical visits, age six months to five years. During each appointment, pediatricians speak with parents about early literacy and their child’s development; and provide educational materials and an age appropriate book in English or Spanish. Funds will provide books for approximately 200 children and materials for parents, including materials sharing the importance of limiting screen time for their young children.
California Heritage Indigenous Research Project
A project is to develop and teach six beginning Nisenan language classes. The classes will target Tribal youth but be accessible to Tribal members of any age who are beginning language learners. Advanced language students who currently work with a Linguist will serve as teachers. Funds will be used for consulting, program development costs, office equipment to prepare materials, printing, videography and printing. This program will invest in teaching the language of the Nisenan Tribe to children so that it might live into the future.
Tahoe Lake Elementary
Creation of a “Reading Sanctuary” room at Tahoe Lake Elementary School. Funding would be used to upgrade reading sets focusing on science, non-fiction, early reader, and high-level interest sets for reluctant readers in a Transitional Kindergarten-4th curriculum. Some funds will be used to purchase parent resource books to create a small lending library promoting parent education. The “Reading Sanctuary” room will provide a more mindful and quiet environment to promote best learning practices when this school of 250 students moves back into its remodeled school during the summer of 2019.
Park City READS
The “Park City READS” Advocate Program, which provides assistance to families of struggling readers. This grant will support the purchase of books for families that educate both parents and students about learning differences, including dyslexia, which is the most common reason for reading difficulties. Funds will be used to purchase books that will assist at least 75 families during the coming year. Some titles will be age appropriate while others would focus on providing parents with information about what dyslexia is and assistance in supporting their child’s reading development.
Trailside Elementary School
Trailside Elementary School’s annual Reach the Peak Reading Challenge. This is a school-wide program designed to encourage recreational reading and develop lifelong reading habits. For three weeks, students log their daily reading. Individual students contribute to classroom and school-wide goals and the whole school is rewarded by meeting them. Funds will go to the cost of supplies, printing, progress tracking posters and books.
Friends of the Colby Public Library
The “Literacy for a Lifetime” project at the Colby Public Library will encourage young families to participate in library programs, which teach literacy skills to children of all ages. Funds would allow purchase of books for “new baby bags” buy folders/supplies for the 1,000-4,000 Book programs that incent reading at a young age (1,000 books B4 the End of Kindergarten, e.g.), acquire story time materials for the year and hire speakers for parenting education.
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