Medford Schools Foundation supports programs the district can't
The Medford Schools Foundation awarded more than a dozen small grants this fall — about $22,300 total — to expand and sustain programs within the Medford School District and afford new opportunities for youths.
“We provide funding for programs that aren't in the school district’s core budget, as well as funding for supplemental programs that teachers wish they could offer,” said MSF President Peter Salant. “These are programs that eight or 10 years ago would have been in schools but have been cut due to budget cuts at the state level.”
The foundation, founded in 1995 to raise money for larger projects and scholarships, has become more proactive in recent years, stepping in to support many smaller ventures that might otherwise have been overlooked.
Steve Thickett, chairman of the MSF grant committee, said the foundation received 19 grant requests totaling about $40,000 this year from Medford teachers and administrators.
This year’s grants ranged from $2,825 to upgrade North Medford High School’s media center with microphones, cameras and iPads to $500 to purchase the materials necessary for Ruch Community School students to build a cob oven in their school garden.
Thickett said the grant committee, which includes retired educators, bankers and other community members, grades each grant proposal on about a dozen factors, including how many students the project will affect, whether it can be maintained, whether it addresses diversity and special needs, and whether it is consistent with the foundation’s vision.
Teachers and administrators aren't always given the amount they request, but anything helps, said Steve Kessler, North Medford High School’s band director.
Kessler said he was excited to see that North and South had been awarded $1,800 to provide coaches for advanced music study, such as a professional soprano vocalist and a trumpet coach who will work with students privately or in small groups.
“It gives the students more help and refinement … and allows us to reach students at a little higher level than we could at one time with 50 students in the room,” he said.
Other grant awards are:
- $500 for Project Dove, an intervention and prevention program for at-risk students in elementary and middle school
- $1,457 for digital cameras and other equipment for a photography class at Central Medford High School
- $2,626 for projectors and document cameras for first-grade classrooms at Kennedy Elementary School
- $2,172 for lab equipment for North Medford High School’s Water, Air, Life and Land on Earth Stream Teams
- $1,800 for Kindles for Hedrick Middle School
- $800 for step boxes for physical education teachers at all 14 elementary schools
- $1,300 for iPads for occupational therapists to provide additional support to students with disabilities
- $1,800 for books for Hoover Elementary School’s Battle of the Books program
- $2,400 for guest artist workshops on theater, production and performance at North and South Medford high schools
MSF also awarded “mini grants” of $1,000 to North and South Medford high schools and $300 to Central Medford High School to help cover the costs of activity fees, school supplies and advanced placement tests for students who can’t afford them.
The grants are funded by private donations and MSF-sponsored fundraisers, Thickett said.
On Nov. 3, singer, songwriter and producer Derik Nelson will present a pop-rock concert at 7 p.m. in the North Medford High School Auditorium. Nelson, who has contributed to TV shows such as “Glee,” “Raising Hope,” “The Voice” and “How I Met Your Mother,” will present original songs and covers. The majority of the proceeds — about 60 percent — will go toward MSF grants, while the remaining proceeds will benefit arts programs at North and South Medford high schools. Tickets are available at www.deriknelson.com/tour, the activities office at either high school, and at the door.
Reach reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or email@example.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.