AAPSEF funds $123,000 in ‘Initiatives for Excellence’ grants

28 Ann Arbor teacher projects also awarded foundation grants this fall

From the AAPS Educational Foundation

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation will fund at least four major Ann Arbor Public Schools programs for the 2010-11 academic year as part of its Initiatives for Excellence grant program.

Officials said due to generous support of foundation donors, the AAPSEF is able to make substantially larger contributions to the Ann Arbor district this year. The foundation’s Board of Directors is continuing review of other district program applications and will determine additional funding yet this month.

Initiatives for Excellence programs awarded grant funding to date include:

Elementary Enrichment Coordinators ($55,220) – This is the second year of AAPSEF funding for this program.  Elementary Enrichment Coordinators work with each elementary school cluster (the group of schools that feed a middle school) and work with building administrators and classroom teachers to bring greater depth to the curriculum through academic games, hands-on classroom activities, field trips and connections to higher education resources.  For a look at last year’s activities in this program, click here.

Environmental Science Program ($35,479) – This program, established in the early 1960’s, is one of the oldest environmental science programs in public school history.  It has a broad scope, touching points in the school curriculum from grades one through six.  Specifically, AAPSEF funds will be used to support field trips related to the program for children at all 21 elementary schools.  The cost breakdown of the trips: Kensington Metropark, first grades, $16,286; Gravel Pit and Life Cycles, second grades, $5,464 and $2,319; and Hydrology and Planetarium, sixth grades, $11,410. To learn more about the environmental education program, click here.

ACT’s EXPLORE and PLAN Assessments ($22,000) – Used as a tool to prepare students for the Michigan Merit Exam, the EXPLORE assessment will be administered to all eighth-graders and the PLAN assessment will be administered to all tenth graders.  These tests help students find their academic strengths and weaknesses, and focus on their career inclinations at the outset and midway-point of high school.  The premise is that these assessments help guide students in career choice and course preparation for college or other post-secondary work.  Guidance staff then coordinates meetings with parents to help interpret the results.  For more information, click here.

Fifth-Grade Instrumental Music Program ($10,000) – All AAPS fifth-graders have the opportunity to experience a hands-on instrumental music program which helps to build middle school programs and the district’s award-winning high school music programs.  AAPSEF funding will support the repair of musical instruments for fifth-grade students for the 2010-11 academic year.

In addition to the larger Initiatives for Excellence awards, the AAPSEF has also selected 28 teacher projects as part of its fall teacher grants program. This fall, AAPSEF received 61 applications, which were then reviewed by a nine-member volunteer Grants Review Committee.

The 28 selected projects will impact an estimated 7,584 students at 21 Ann Arbor schools. The maximum amount of funding per grant is $1,000; total funding for the fall grant cycle is $22,606. For a complete awards list, click here.

(For a story about teacher grants, watch for the Nov. 22 edition of the AAPSNews.)

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