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Carter Spark Grants bolster classroom innovation
By Chris Barnett / March 12, 2018 /   Loading Disqus...

Elementary school teachers in 23 cities and towns will share $153,000 in grants to encourage innovation in their classrooms through the Carter Spark Grants program at the Rhode Island Foundation.

Launched by philanthropists Letitia and the late John Carter in 2013, the program offers full-time third-grade and fourth-grade teachers in any traditional public school or public charter school in Rhode Island grants of up to $1,000 for activities that engage students through unique experiences and creative learning methods in order to stimulate their interest in academics.

“Our goal is to give teachers the resources to put more youngsters on the road to a lifetime of academic success," said Letitia Carter.

Eligible expenses include field trips, equipment and other resources that otherwise would not be available in the classroom. Spark Grants are for one-time expenses and cannot provide ongoing funding to sustain projects. 

“Once again, the Carter family is promoting change through leadership. Thanks to their foresight, teachers all over Rhode Island have an exceptional opportunity to be innovative,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.

Teachers at Agnes B. Hennessey Elementary in East Providence, Lincoln Central Elementary in Lincoln and Highlander Charter in Providence are among more than 150 educators who received grants. 

At Hennessey, Ashley Jamieson was awarded $973 to promote Next Generation Science Standards through classroom robotics instruction and a field trip to the Boston Science Museum. 

“We’ll use these funds to spark a love for learning and celebrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the classroom. Students can participate in hands-on problem solving activities that not only teach engineering, but important science and related subject content,” said Jamieson.

“Student confidence in taking on complex and challenging tasks will increase. Working collaboratively will have a positive impact on students' ability to persevere through problem solving," she said.

Lincoln Central third-grade teacher Jeffrey Drolet received $986 to purchase scientific materials for his "Sciene is Cool! The Central AC Project." Students will work collaboratively to design, build, test and improve a functioning cooling system.

"I'm hopeful that the quality of the materials will inspire teams to take other's design components into consideration as they work towards revising their own designs. Ultimately, the project will show students that they are capable of creating something collaboratively that could not be achieved individually," Drolet said.

Highlander third-grade teacher Lindsay Robinson received $801 to engage students in the study of the solar system. The grant will be used to purchase supplies and fund a field trip to the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium at Roger Williams Park in Providence.

“We will purchase K'NEX Education Maker's Kits, motors and batteries so that the students can design and build their own version of a Mars Rover as a STEM activity.  Additionally, we will purchase a variety of basic materials such as toothpicks, straws, marshmallows and baggies to use for various STEM projects that relate to the space unit,” said Robinson.

Schools in Bristol, Burrillville, Central Falls, Charlestown, Cranston, Cumberland, East Greenwich, Exeter, Narragansett, Newport, North Providence, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Scituate, Smithfield, South Kingstown, Warren, Warwick, Westerly and Woonsocket also received grants.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $38 million and awarded $43 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2017. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.

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