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 and the Education Foundation of Lower Merion generously contributed to the Interschool Council Mini Grant Program. This year’s program resulted in the funding of 39 projects, of which 18 were fully and 21 were partially funded, for a total amount of $13,800. 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 to enrich our youngest LMSD students:
Belmont Hills Elementary: Laurie Billows’s Relaxation and Wellness at Belmont Hills Elementary will create a calm, comfortable waiting area with unique puzzles, fidgets and sensory relaxation tools. Total Funding: $320.00
Belmont Hills Elementary: Cathy Kaufman’s Enhancing Our Maker Space will provide 3D doodler pens giving an opportunity for students to create models and prototypes. Total Funding: $599.00
Belmont Hills Elementary: Colleen Holmes’s Speak UP, Speak Out and Sing! will purchase a portable amplification system helping student public speakers in a supportive, compassionate classroom setting. Total Funding: $550.00
Cynwyd Elementary: Gina Felice’s Women's History and Black History will supplement a classroom library with books with compelling storylines and diversity. Total Funding: $233.00
Cynwyd Elementary: Natalie Thibault, Connie Lowney and Karen Salladino’s Making with Purpose: Pillowcases for CHOP will supply student volunteers meeting weekly in their Library Makerspace with fabric to create and make pillowcases for patients at CHOP. Total Funding: $235.00
Gladwyne Elementary: Riva Rothenberger’s Lego Wall will install a Lego Wall for students to continue to solve, create and engage. Total Funding: $192.00
Gladwyne Elementary: Melissa Stagliano’s Osmo Learning System - Genius Edition will utilize digital tiles and blocks linked to an iPad encouraging students to learn visually through physical play. Total Funding: $504.00
Gladwyne Elementary: Elena Habel’s Building Blocks will create a kindergarten space for block building that is organized and available for students to use during their daily choice time. Total Funding: $440.00
Gladwyne Elementary: Lori McCrudden ’s Gladwyne Garden – Part II will provide the materials to create, plant and harvest the school garden. Total Funding: $550.00
Merion & Belmont Hills ELEMENTARY: Wendy S. Phillips’s Increasing Students’ Social & Emotional Development Through Bibliotherapy will increase student’s social & emotional development through selected thematic books to guide them developmentally and to promote social skills. Total Funding: $175.00
Merion Elementary: Jessica Segal’s Culturally Proficient Library will support LMSD's Transformative Curriculum while helping children make cross-cultural connections. Total Funding: $370.00
Merion Elementary: Tara Miller’s Emotional Support and Strategies will offer sensory objects, workbooks and games to increase student focus and social/emotional awareness. Total Funding: $300.00
Merion Elementary: Meredith Johnson’s Monarch Waystation will create an intentionally-managed garden that provides food and habitat for the struggling Monarch butterfly population. Total Funding: $405.00
Merion Elementary: Kristina Volertas’s Relaxation Tools for Wellness Promotion will use relaxing, meditative activities to help students calm themselves in the nurses' office to be able to get back to the classroom feeling better. Total Funding: $136.00
Penn Valley Elementary: Carol Burgos’s Jumbie Jam Steel Drum Band will expand a steel drum collection. Total Funding: $637.00
Penn Valley Elementary: Joan Hennessy’s Mindfulness and Relaxation in the Health Office will provide an aquarium lamp and mini library to reduce students' stress. Total Funding: $151.00
Penn Wynne: Kate Rafferty’s Sensory Paths - Floor Decal Sets will give students a safe space to take a short productive break from the classroom. Total Funding: $267.00
In our Middle Schools, ISC Mini Grants are benefitting students through the following awards:
Bala Cynwyd Middle School: Jamie Gaffga and Jennifer Nates’s Video Cameras for Performance-Based Assessment will encourage originality and creativity in student-led presentations of interdisciplinary inquiry units. Total Funding: $250.00
Welsh Valley Middle School: Maureen Keeney’s Culinary Lab Library will establish a Culinary Lab Library with science-based and STEM related cookbooks. Total Funding: $100.00
Welsh Valley Middle School: Gina Sullivan and Pat Markey’s Literacy Through Culture will teach Spanish through native Hispanic children's literature. Total Funding: $230.00
Welsh Valley Middle School: Mary Callaghan’s Exploring the Keyboard for Adaptive Music Students will provide a portable adaptive keyboard for special education music class. Total Funding: $640.00
Welsh Valley Middle School: Jessica Levin’s Podcasting Equipment for Exploratory Learning will offer foldable microphone acoustic isolation shields to allow multiple students in the same room to record projects at the same time. Total Funding: $300.00
Welsh Valley Middle School: Lauren Ruth’s Relaxation and Relationships at the Valley will purchase fidgets, games and different relaxation tools to use when speaking about difficult and emotional topics to counselors. Total Funding: $200.00
Welsh Valley Middle School: Matt Wyatt’s Stethoscopes will connect the health curriculum and 7th grade math curriculum to discover the various benefits of exercising and experience “real life” application of math concepts. Total Funding: $206.00
Welsh Valley Middle School: Matthew Birch’s Cold Frame will add liners and materials to existing raised bed planters. Total Funding: $431.00
Welsh Valley Middle School: Maureen Keeney’s Air Fryer Cooker will engage students with new food preparation technology. Total Funding: $160.00
Welsh Valley Middle School: Mary Beth Peterson and Mariam Dubashi’s Stand and Engage will increase alertness and concentration through standing desks. Total Funding: $780.00
Welsh Valley Middle School: Katy Morris’s Engaging Students in Physical Science with Roller Coasters will engage students with STEM/engineering concepts with K'Nex Education Amusement Park Experience Sets. Total Funding: $239.00
Welsh Valley Middle School: Jacqueline Cassidy, Jordan Robinson and Maureen Keeney’s Cricut Maker Cutting Machine will apply STEAM principles in the Art Club and In Stitches Needle Arts Club. Total Funding: $350.00
Welsh Valley Middle School: Heather Cook and Katy Morris’s Motivating Students with Milestone Buttons will offer a button making machine to commemorate academic achievements. Total Funding: $267.00
Welsh Valley Middle School: Sarah Rittenhouse’s Engaging Students in Reading in a Modern Language Classroom will provide a robust library for independent Spanish reading. Total Funding: $400.00
In our high schools, ISC Mini Grants will support these innovative projects:
Harriton High School: Nyanthen Bantoe’s National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) will use STEM kits and drones for high school NSBE Club members to share with elementary school students of color. Total Funding: $600.00
Harriton High School: Veronica Vladimirova-Cambria’s Certamen Expansion will purchase a Latin language quiz machine preparing students for national Latin competitions. Total Funding: $560.00
Harriton High School: Christine Kiley’s Escape Room Hands On Challenge will offer materials for Escape Room science challenges. Total Funding: $176.00
Harriton High School: Christine Kiley’s Insane in the Membrane will offer phospholipid and membrane transport kits for hands-on exploration. Total Funding: $209.00
Harriton High School: Mark Ferraro, Daniella Roy and Jeff Rhodes’s Worm Farm Project will enhance their worm bin system to make gathering the castings and worm tea much simpler for students to reach an independent level. Total Funding: $359.00
Harriton High School: Jessica Henry’s Flexible Book Shelving will create an infrastructure for successful classroom libraries. Total Funding: $703.00
Lower Merion High School: Larry McAfoos’s Phone Camera Lenses and Tripods will enable students to create digital lab notebooks using phones to record procedures and observations. Total Funding: $360.00
All District: Allison Mellet’s One Book One LMSD will help to provide Classroom "Monster Journals" and incentive bags to support the LMSD community reading project. Total Funding: $250.00