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50 years of

Innovative Projects Grants

Since 1996, the Education Foundation has awarded thousands of dollars to classroom teachers for projects that enrich the academic experience for their students.

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No-Sew Blankets

In 2019, Kristen Barta requested funding to purchase materials so that her students could create no-sew blankets for distribution to the Ronald McDonald House. The project required that the students use fine motor skills to create the blankets while experiencing pride in accomplishment, and learning about empathy. The students worked with the participants at the Apollo Senior Center to enrich an intergenerational learning experience. 


Good Clean Learning

The first book in Ashley Jones' Read 180 Curriculum is titled “Contagion” and features nonfiction articles about past pandemics, excerpts from CDC documents, and a career focus on epidemiologists. The reading unit was extremely relevant during the
2020-2021 COVID-19 pandemic. To help the students contextualize the lessons and transfer them into their daily lives, GermGlo kits were utilized to teach students proper handwashing techniques, model the importance of PPE, and reinforce the importance of proper sanitation techniques.

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Grants that Became
Annual Events

Over the years, teachers have submitted Innovative Projects Grant applications for activities that are so extraordinary, the Education Foundation incorporated them into the annual budget. Those activities include the Kindergarten students traveling to Vale Wood for a farm-to-table learning experience; 2nd and 4th graders learning about music and instruments from members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall; High School Anatomy students observing open heart surgery at Allegheny General Hospital; and Chemistry I & II students visiting the Allegheny County medical examiner's office and attending Faraday Lectures.


Hummingbird Project

In 2015, middle school reading teacher Dan Barrett received a grant for a project to combine poetry and robotics. After choosing their favorite scene from Romeo and Juliet, the 6th graders used a variety of materials to build characters depicted in the tragedy. They then brought them to life with the use of robotic "hummingbird" kits.


Forensic Science

In 2016, high school chemistry teacher, Leigh Wenckowski received a grant to create a new section for her students. Each year they investigate a crime scene gathering evidence, dusting for fingerprints, analyzing fiber samples, and creating a chain of custody. The project now includes a trip to the Pittsburgh medical examiner's office.


Viking Cafe 

In 2017, life skills teacher Kristen Barta received a grant to allow high school students to gain meaningful work experience and training that could be taken with them upon graduation. The self-supporting business has grown from just serving middle school teachers to serving staff in all three buildings. The students plan to expand operations to include monthly coffee sales to middle school students. Those proceeds will be donated to charities that support disabled children.

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Sensing Energy

In 2018, high school physics teacher Matt Grantz received a grant to replace dated and ineffective equipment so his students can practice modern data collection so their labs run more efficiently and effectively. Students will spend more time analyzing data and integrating technology to prepare themselves for college-level physics labs.

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