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Classroom grants give support for classroom experience

By Clarissa Corral

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Members of Tech Art Club, sponsored by Ms. Wozniak, showcasing their wood carvings. According to Wozniak, the LTAA donated $500 for the creation of the club. (Photo courtesy of Ms. Wozniak)

Every Thursday, a group of 20 students meet in the Innovation and Creation Lab to engage in computer science projects. Tech Art, a club sponsored by Computer Science teacher Ms. Wozniak, allows students to explore the world of combining technology and art through designing ornaments, magnets, and stickers.

The Teacher Innovation Grant program under the Lane Tech Alumni Association (LTAA) donated funds for the creation of Tech Art; it also aids other departments throughout the school.

According to the Vice President of the LTAA, James Guerin, $21,000 was donated specifically for classroom grants for the 2016-17 school year. These grants are primarily funded through memberships.

The LTAA sends out an email at the beginning of each school year where teachers can apply for grants, with a $2000 limit for each teacher that applies, according to Guerin.

“They have certain criteria that you have to write about,” Mrs. Wain, an art teacher, said. “You answer all of their questions and then within a month or two, they’ll let us know if we got the grant and how much money they’re willing to give.”

Wain has applied for four grants through the LTAA and has received three. One of the grants was for supplies for the murals in the stairways.

According to Guerin, each grant that a teacher submits must follow certain guidelines, which are then reviewed by five members on the grant committee. Their goal is to get back to teachers within three weeks to a month.

“We try to spread the money to different departments and that’s going to have the most impact on the students,” Guerin said. “It has to be an educational driven activity.”

The classroom grants donated by the LTAA have contributed to a wide variety of resources, such as steering wheels for the Driver’s Education simulators, uniforms for the Girls Lacrosse Team, and fabrics for Fashion Club.

“We do ask for the teachers to get back to us and provide receipts, pictures, or some sort of feedback on the results and how it helped the students, as well as how many students were impacted,” Guerin said.

Another organization that facilitates classroom grants is Donors Choose, a website where teachers post classroom project requests and donors can choose who they want to donate to, according to a statement from the Donors Choose website.

It is an online process with three steps: post a project, wait for donors to begin funding, and last but not least, thank the donors.

According to Wain, Donors Choose has an online platform that is easy to use.

“You have to write up your grant specifying who your students are, what the makeup of your student population is, what the materials will be used for, and what the students will get out of the project,” Wain said. “Then you submit it.”

According to Wain, it takes a few days for Donors Choose to review the project and if there are no errors, it is then posted on the website for donors to begin funding.

Teachers can choose to have their grant active on the website for up to four months, according to Wain. Donors Choose usually sends reminders and promotions as a grant’s deadline approaches, in order to help the project get funded.

Wain has applied for 17 grants through Donors Choose, some of which include simple classroom supplies such as easels and paper towels, and others supplying art supplies for projects like “Skateboard Deck Paintings” and “Selfie Portraits.”

According to Wozniak, Donors Choose donated a classroom set of 15 PicoBoards, which are small attachments with sliders and sensors, to aid her students in computer programing.

“It’s easy to use and I’ve heard all positive things, even from other teachers who’ve done it,” Wozniak said. “Your project gets funded. It’s just a matter of teachers taking time out to go and do it and figure out ‘Well what do I need for the classroom and how much it would be?’”

Once the project is funded, some donors may ask for a thank-you package that include the results of the project/grant as well as a two to three paragraph description, according to Wozniak.

Since 2009, when the LTAA Grant Program began, $183,000 has been awarded for a range of programs, according to a statement from the Lane Alumni Association website.

According to Guerin, the LTAA offers access to resources and materials that CPS cannot fund.

“Our mission is to enhance Lane Tech reputation and provide support for students for the classroom experience,” Guerin said.

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Classroom grants give support for classroom experience