Teachers at Centennial Middle School in Boulder saw a need for more math support, and several were already using an online math program they liked.
Principal John McCluskey therefore requested an Impact on Education grant of $ 3,000 to purchase access to IXL Math for all students in the school. After discussions with Boulder Valley School District leaders, Impact is now paying for program access for all colleges this school year.
“A big thing with math, as soon as you lose confidence in yourself you’re like ‘I’m not doing math’,” he said. “It really helps them gain self-confidence. The most important thing we try to do is make children see themselves as capable mathematicians. “
He said the online program is user-friendly, differentiates itself based on skill level, and gives immediate feedback. In addition to helping students who lost ground during the pandemic, he said, he hopes the program will help more Latinx students access higher-level math courses.
“In order for our Latinx students to see themselves in advanced math, we need to build their confidence in the fundamentals,” he said. “It’s so important that everyone is at the same level of access. “
Last year, Impact on Education, the foundation of Boulder Valley Schools, piloted an academic support fund for students to meet individual needs on a case-by-case basis. This school year, the foundation expanded the grant program to include educators with innovative ideas, combining the Student Academic Support Fund with the long-standing Classroom Innovation Grants program.
The combined fund provides $ 100,000 to meet the specific needs of schools and students. Out of 60 applications received, 50 were funded. Six other funding requests were linked to the school district to provide support.
The average amount of each claim was less than $ 2,000, although claims ranged from $ 100 to $ 20,000. Fifteen community volunteers assessed the applications and provided feedback on funding decisions.
At the top of the range, Centaurus High School in Lafayette is launching a walk-in tutoring center with a grant of nearly $ 10,000. Deputy principal Carlyn Carroll said students requested tutoring through a school survey, requesting space for one-on-one support, peer study groups and teacher support while working on homework.
She said the school will hold two afternoon sessions and one work session per week for 20 weeks, starting December 6. Four teachers from different content areas will be assigned to each session. The school also plans to add tutors as part of a partnership with the ATLAS program at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Several high schools have also requested RTD bus passes for students, including Fairview, Centaurus, and Arapahoe Ridge. In collaboration with the school district, Impact purchased 10,000 bus passes to give to school community liaison officers.
Another proposal that was funded covers the cost of instrument repairs for needy students who use school-supplied instruments.
Aubrey Yeh, the language arts and humanities coordinator for the District East Network, said the need for instruments provided by the district has increased over the past two years, with several hundred instruments provided to students.
She said the Impact money will mainly benefit the fifth graders, as they are the main group checking instruments in the district. Colleges and high schools generally maintain their own stocks of loan instruments.
“Sometimes these instruments break down and need to be repaired,” she said. “We are asking families to help us pay for the repairs, but that is not possible under all circumstances. This money ensures that we are able to take care of the repairs and not let a broken instrument become a barrier to participation in their music education.
She added that the demographics of the district’s music groups do not always reflect the demographics of the community.
“This change must start by giving all of our beginners access to the tools necessary to learn to play,” she said. “I can’t count the number of times I was teaching that a student came to me and said, ‘I can’t do this, my parents can’t pay for this’. The light in their eyes when I told them we could take care of it and give them an instrument is unforgettable.
At Louisville Elementary School, grade one teacher Sarah Whitehead asked for money to add Spanish picture books to classroom libraries. She said her school has a growing population of Spanish-speaking students, nine of whom are in her class.
“The texts to enjoy in Spanish is a huge thing for students to have resources and feel included,” she said. “When you’re just starting to read, it’s super important to have bilingual texts.
She worked with the school librarian to identify which books would work for the school’s kindergarten through second grade classes, ordering plus level readers of children’s classics in Spanish through Scholastic.
“It was important that the students could see the classic books that really interest them in their mother tongue,” she said. “I’m super excited to have the books.”