Each year the Interschool Council (ISC) Mini Grant Program provides grants to teachers in the Lower Merion School District who are piloting innovative approaches to enrich student learning. In 2019/20, the ISC Mini Grant Program received 82 applications and awarded $13,800 to fund 39 projects.
Every elementary, middle and high school in the district received at least one mini grant ranging from $100 to $780, with an award averaging $350. Last year’s funding was provided by the ten Home and School Associations and the Education Foundation of Lower Merion.
APPLICATION PROCESS AND TIMETABLE
Week of January 27, 2020 - Invitation to Apply
The ISC notifies all teachers via email about the opportunity to apply for an ISC Mini Grant. Application, guidelines and past projects are posted on the ISC page of the LMSD website. HSA presidents and ISC representatives are notified that the "Invitation to Apply" has been sent to all LMSD teachers.
Wednesday April 1, 2020 - Deadline to submit applications.
THIS DEADLINE WILL NOT BE EXTENDED AS IN THE PAST. Teachers must submit applications on or before this date.
NEW FOR 2020: please submit applications via this Google Form.
If you do not have a G-Suite account (i.e., a Gmail address or Google Drive account), we will still accept applications in Microsoft Word documents. Download Word form here.
April 2020 - Application Review and Selection
A committee, comprised of a diverse group of LMSD administrators and parents, will evaluate the mini grant applications. The committee uses a blind review process: when they read the proposal and make a recommendation for funding, the committee will not know which teachers or schools have submitted the applications.
May 2020 - Grant Awards are announced
All applicants will receive email notification as to the status of their application: Fully Funded; Partial Funding; Not Funded. The awardees may begin implementing their grants after they have received their letter and the LMSD Board of Directors has accepted the awards.
- The Goal of the ISC Mini Grant Program is to support creative and innovative approaches to teaching and to support the personal and academic development of LMSD students.
- Teachers may submit a grant application with other teachers. Teachers may work together across disciplines and schools to submit grants applications.
- Teachers are limited to submitting two grants total, either by themselves or with other teachers.
- Grants are awarded that impact both small and large groups of students. The number of students impacted is only one factor in considering a grant application.
- All grant applications must be submitted electronically to the ISC Mini Grant Chair by the established deadline posted on the ISC website.
- The ISC Mini Grant Chair will acknowledge receipt of application via email to the Primary Contact on the application.
- All applications must include a detailed budget. Submitting global categories with a dollar amount will not be considered. For example, “Books--$250” or “Supplies--$100” does not provide the required detail. In this example, the list of books or supplies to be purchased would need to be included with the grant application.
- Grant applications may reference a website and provide a link as supplemental information but cannot be used as the primary explanation for an item or request. It is expected that you will describe your proposal as it specifically relates to your classroom.
- Budget items that are NOT funded:
- Office equipment
- General school supplies
- Document copying
- Mailing costs
- Consumable items, including food and beverages
- Transportation, lodging or conference fees
- iPads or laptops
- Outside guest speakers
- High School Senior Projects
- Teachers may submit additional information to further support a request when completing their grant application. You are not limited to the space provided or the information requested on the application.
- Handwritten applications will not be considered.
- Incomplete applications will not be considered.
GRANT REVIEW PROCESS:
- All grants are evaluated through a blind review process. Identifying information such as teacher name(s) and school(s) is removed.
- The Grant review committee is compromised of the ISC Mini Grant chair, ISC members, a HSA president, a CSE representative, a LMSD principal, LMSD parents and other administrators based upon the type of grant applications submitted.
- Technology requests will be reviewed by the Director of Technology to ensure compatibility with LMSD. In addition, applications may be reviewed for curriculum compatibility by the applicant’s school principal and/or the appropriate department of LMSD’s Office of Curriculum and Instruction.
- Grants may be fully funded, partially funded or not funded based upon the consensus of the Grant Review Committee.
- Teachers can be awarded funding for the same grant for 3 years. However, grants funded during a review cycle are not guaranteed funding in subsequent years; grant applications must be resubmitted each year in order to receive multiple year funding.
- If the Grant Review Committee awards partial funding for a grant, the award will be given unrestricted to purchase any of the budget’s requested items. In rare cases, a caveat to how the funds must be used will be identified in the congratulation letter sent to the awardee(s). The ISC Mini Grant chair is required to approve the restrictions placed on the funds.
- Items identified in the individual grant budget are the only items to be approved for reimbursement by the ISC Mini Grant Program. If a change or substitution is required (i.e., a certain product is no longer available), prior approval from the ISC Mini Grant Chair is required for reimbursement.
- Maximum award for any grant is $1,000. There is no minimum dollar value for approved awards. All awards will be rounded up to the nearest dollar.
- Grant money that is awarded in May of each year for the upcoming grant year will be available to teachers/staff/purchasing for reimbursement any time after the awardees receive their award letter and the LMSD Board of Directors has accepted the awards.
- Purchases for reimbursement can be made either directly by the teacher or can be purchased through LMSD. Reimbursement can be made to either an individual or to LMSD Purchasing.
- In rare circumstances, a third party vendor may be considered for direct reimbursement. The ISC Mini Grant Chair is required to approve in advance a third party vendor reimbursement request.
- No reimbursement requests will be filled unless the reimbursement form and reimbursement procedures identified on the form are followed by the award recipient(s). Download Reimbursement Form HERE. Reimbursement will be paid from receipts ONLY. Quotes are not an acceptable form of receipt.
- If funds are not spent all at one time, two reimbursement requests can be made by a teacher during the course of the school year.
- Requests for ISC mini grant reimbursements must be submitted to the ISC Mini Grant chair by June 30 of the grant school year. After June 30, any unspent funds go back to the ISC Mini Grant Program.
All LMSD Home and School Associations generously contributed to the Interschool Council Mini Grant Program. This year’s program resulted in the funding of 26 projects, of which 20 were fully and 6 were partially funded, for a total amount of $11,200. A special thank you to the members of the Mini Grant Review Committee for all of their insightful input in awarding the following projects:
In the Elementary Schools, the following ISC Mini Grants have been awarded toenrich our youngest LMSD students:
BELMONT HILLS ELEMENTARY: Vinetta Baselice’s Usefulness of Mindfulness in Special Education Classrooms: being FLEXIBLE & FOCUSED will provide Autism Support students tools to increase their ability to regulate emotions and control their
attention. Total Funding: $451
CYNWYD ELEMENTARY: Natalie Thibault and Karen Salladino’s Marble Masterpieces in the MakerSpace will add a STEM-based Marble Wall Maze to an existing Lego Wall. Total Funding: $500
GLADWYNE ELEMENTARY: Elena Habel’s Tactile Learning for Kindergarten will offer manipulable, tactile learning materials for Kindergarten students in an inclusion classroom. Total Funding: $353
GLADWYNE ELEMENTARY: Marie Martin’s Sensory Tools for First Grade will offer seat cushions, fidget tools, and sensory bins to use within the classroom. Total Funding: $157
GLADWYNE ELEMENTARY: Marie Martin’s STEM Building Materials/Toys will fund STEM related building materials to be used in the classroom.. Total Funding: $74
GLADWYNE ELEMENTARY: Joie Walsh’s Sensory Library will offer tools to support general education students with fine motor skills, sensory needs, emotional regulation, and executive functioning. An innovative facet of the project is how the items are used; the collection would be shared throughout the school using a lending library format. Total Funding: $940
MERION ELEMENTARY: Meredith Johnson and Nicole Wiggins’s Kindergarten Monarch Waystation will maintain an intentionally-managed garden that provides food and habitat for the struggling Monarch butterfly population. This grant replicates last
year’s project and supplements it with fencing, signage and storage. Total Funding: $427
MERION ELEMENTARY: Tara Miller’s Emotional Support and Strategies will receive funding for its second year; the project aims to increase student focus and social/emotional awareness through games, workbooks, and manipulables for the affective education group and emotional support curriculum. Total Funding: $600
PENN VALLEY ELEMENTARY: Janie M. Partridge’s Surf Portable Lap Desks will allow students to work collaboratively or independently anywhere in the classroom. Total Funding: $322
PENN VALLEY ELEMENTARY: Christopher Vaccaro’s Can Plants Learn? will receive its third year of funding for seeds; seedling heat mats; LED grow lights; watering spray bottles, allowing the students the opportunity to design plant habitat experiments. Total
In our Middle Schools, ISC Mini Grants will benefit students through the following awards:
BALA CYNWYD MIDDLE: Leslie Bullitt, Eileen Evans, Chelsea Foster and Christian Reichert’s Suspense with Suspend will purchase copies of the game “SUSPEND” to be used in Spanish classrooms. Total Funding: $200
BALA CYNWYD MIDDLE: Daniel Bluth’s Latin Readers for Comprehensible Input will fund a classroom set of Latin novellas for students to read, analyze, translate, and discuss in class. Total Funding: $210
BALA CYNWYD MIDDLE: Kim Rycyzyn’s Bala Cynwyd Middle School Aquaponics will combine funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to purchase an aquaponics kit. This system will be located in the science atrium allowing all students to observe. Total Funding: $271
BALA CYNWYD MIDDLE: Mary Beth Kadyan and Michelle Moser’s Light Boards, Books, and Cross Stitching Hoops for 6th Grade Family and Consumer Sciences STEAM Projects will enhance and support a popular Family & Consumer Science STEAM project. Total Funding: $295
BALA CYNWYD MIDDLE: Kate Monaghan’s Expressing Comprehension in Unique Ways will help Learning Support and Instructional Support students build meaningful connections to English class content through artistic expression. Total Funding: $384
BALA CYNWYD MIDDLE: Rachel Nichols and Carolyn McKinney’s Enriching the BCMS Community through Collaborative Engagement will fund multi-media and manipulative equipment for school-wide collaborative enrichment, including inquiry
projects, literary circles, mosaic creation, podcasts, and video blogs for both Gifted and Regular Education students. Total Funding: $550
BALA CYNWYD MIDDLE: Beth Pavletich and Kristen Kennedy’s Promote Literacy will update a classroom library with newer, recommended, age appropriate novels for students to borrow throughout the year. Total Funding: $700
BALA CYNWYD MIDDLE: Rebecca Epting’s 7th Grade Science Classroom Library will promote scientific literacy skills within a science classroom. Total Funding: $858.38
BALA CYNWYD MIDDLE: Amanda Groen’s Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning Pilot of “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You” will partner with several other teachers, including one at Welsh Valley, to pilot the use of Ibram X Kendi and
Jason Reynolds text, "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You." This pilot will cross disciplines using this text, which explores the legacy of racism throughout the entire history of the United States of America. Total Funding: $999
WELSH VALLEY MIDDLE: Dori Hryshchyshyn, Laura Oakes and Chris Gramlich’s Coding in Motion will engage students in computer programming and physical computing with BBC micro:bits, a pocket-sized computer that students can code,
customize and control to bring their digital ideas, games, and apps to life. Total
In our high schools, ISC Mini Grants will support these innovative projects:
HARRITON HIGH: Laura Vogel’s Giving Nature a Glow Up will use paper Circuit kits to model Recombinant DNA, integrating STEM based learning for high school science students. Total Funding: $340
LOWER MERION HIGH: David Clark and Patrick Snyder’s Get Cooking with Autistic Support will provide the Autistic Support Program’s students’ with kitchenette equipment, reinforcing their independent living skills. Total Funding: $305
LOWER MERION HIGH: JB Haglund and Brian Mays’ Remarkable Note Taking Test will pilot the use of handwriting recognition tablets in high school English classrooms. Total Funding: $439
LOWER MERION HIGH: David Clark and Patrick Snyder’s Impossible Ball For High School Autistic Support will increase focus and self-regulation strategies for Autistic Support students, addressing gross motor skills, direction following, cooperative learning and sequencing. Total Funding: $456
LOWER MERION HIGH: Jennifer Cornely’s QBall for Classroom Confidence will increase Specialized Learning Support/Life Skills students’ confidence in reading comprehension and create a greater collaborative learning environment. Total Funding: $249
LOWER MERION HIGH: Mikell Nigro and Jennifer Cornely’s Special Education Life Skills/Autistic Support Reading and Literacy will fund binding machines used to create interactive books and support of literacy within the Life Skills/ Autistic support programs. Total Funding: $207