Students help teachers pay for classroom supplies.

February 16, 2016
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The Oceana youth board at a grant review meeting.

OCEANA COUNTY — Teachers across the US pay for about 77 percent of classroom supplies out of their own pockets — about $500 per year, according to a school supply industry trade group.  

Every teacher knows this; most adults, students and their parents probably don’t. But this comes as no surprise to 43 area high school students who are being mentored by the Community Foundation for Oceana County’s Youth Advisory Council.  

The YAC is a good example of CFOC’s philanthropic leadership in the county. The foundation each year oversees this ongoing, community-caring, training program that involves a cross section of Oceana students chosen by their peers. These students will be among the next generation of workers, parents and leaders.  

“Teacher Mini Grants” are part of the Youth Advisory Council’s outreach in Oceana. Each year, the YAC reviews and recommends over $16,000 worth of grant awards that are awarded from the Oceana Foundation’s Youth Fund, which was established in 1989 with the help of the Kellogg Foundation challenge grant program. The grant allocation towards the Teacher Mini Grant program varies each year – typically $2,000 each grant round.

Oceana public and private school teachers are invited to apply once or twice a year for mini-grants of up to $250. Oceana teachers can request grants for program enhancements, special projects, expansion of an existing curriculum unit, student awards, special events, professional development, artists in residence, and parent involvement.  

Grants are not awarded for basic, everyday supplies.

“We connect teachers with a bit of extra financial resources they need,” says CFOC executive director Tammy Carey. “YAC members enjoy reviewing these proposals and bring so much to the deliberation table given their own learning experiences in the local schools.”  

In 2015, mini grants were awarded to teachers in the following Oceana schools for these projects:    

Hart High School – Book Love independent reading program

Hart Middle School – Art Bucks incentive program

Hart Spitler Elementary School — Fourth Grade Mini Library, Third grade mentor books, At-Risk Student Intervention Assistance, Sight Word books for English Language Learner Students, An Animal’s Life science unit, Backpack books for Kindergartners, Best Read-Aloud Books, Picture Books to build strong reading habits, Chrome book head phones, 1st grade Social Studies Stories, 3rd grade One Class Story  

Hesperia Patricia St. Clair Elementary School – Owl Pellet Discoveries for Little Scientists, Composers for Kids video series, Sensory Exploration for special ed

Hesperia Middle School – Read 180 remedial reading Incentives

Hesperia High School – Teaching Chemistry with Legos

New Era Christian School – Classroom Library

Pentwater Elementary School – Osmos math Ipad Game, Physical Fitness Testing – pull up bar

Shelby New Era Elementary School – Professional Development in classroom management

Shelby Thomas Read Elementary School – Ukulele curriculum, Kindergarten Big Books, Hands-on Math Activities

Shelby High School – Plyometric boxes for strength training

West Shore ESD – Quick Moves/Longer Focus!, Move to Learn and Pirate LINKS: peer to peer relationships – special ed programs

Walkerville Public School – Jump Ropes for Heart

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Mary Ann Peterson reading with her grandson Kaleb Wiegand, who is now a Hart High School junior.

One of the foundation’s donor-advised funds, the Mary Ann Peterson “Grandma Pete” Memorial, is also utilizing the teacher mini grant program to support learning to read efforts at Hart’s Spitler Elementary and now including Oceana Christian School grades K-4. Mary Ann was a frequent volunteer at Spitler Elementary and was immensely proud of her time with struggling readers and marveled at their progress. She often said “if you can read, you can do anything!”

The next deadline for submitting Teacher Mini-Grant proposals will be in early fall of 2016.