Shortly before schools took a break for the holidays, 770 teachers received early Christmas presents. A record high total of $147,000 in Tools for Schools grants were hand delivered to teachers throughout the Cache County School District by donors and representatives of the Cache Education Foundation.
“All the resources that are requested for our Tools for Schools grants are required to be non-consumable,” explains Teri Lewis, executive director of the Cache Education Foundation. “At the elementary level we receive a lot of requests for manipulatives. They are hands-on materials, or games, that the students can learn math or language arts skills with something that is hands-on.”
At the secondary level (in middle and high schools), those grants were used to fund Chromebooks or calculators.
“In some cases, students are required to use a calculator in the classroom,” Lewis continues. “What if their family can’t afford to buy them a calculator? This is where the Tools for Schools grant program comes into effect. The teacher can see the needs of their individual classrooms and they can apply for these individual grants, to receive the resources that they need to help the kids.”
Each grant is for $200 or less, but Lewis says it is always an amazing experience to see how excited the teachers get when they receive their grants.
“It’s exciting for the donor to interrupt the classroom and present the teacher with their award,” she explains. “Not only does the donor have a connection with the teacher they are giving an award to, but the students in the classroom can see the teacher really cares about their class and his or her students enough that they are willing to apply for a grant to help with their education any way possible.”
The majority of the funds for the Tools for Schools program is made possible by the Del Loy and Lynette Hansen Foundation. Additional funds are raised at the Cache Education Foundation’s annual golf tournament and by generous donations from Herberger’s, Fisher Home Furnishings and Young Toyota Honda.
“We really could not fund all of these grant requests,” says Lewis, “without our major donors, without doing our golf tournament fundraiser, or just any generous person or business who wants to make a difference in the lives of students and donate money to this program.
“It’s a community effort. We can’t just raise all the money at one fundraiser.”
While the summer golf tournament raised money specifically for the Tools for Schools program, another fundraiser has been steadily growing for the foundation which specifically helps fund technology grants in the Cache County School District.
On the Monday before Thanksgiving, the foundation hosted its third annual Christmas Tree Jubilee. Lewis says this year’s event surpassed their goal.
“Last year we made $25,000; this year we made $30,000, which is unbelievable. One-hundred percent of those funds will go into the classrooms of the Cache County School District schools via technology resources.”
Lewis says the school district has great teachers, but they don’t always have the resources they need. Sometimes those teachers spend their own money to access those resources.
“Here is where the Cache Education Foundation can help. The only way we can do it is through donations (and participation in annual fundraisers).”