WSVEF Announces Fall Grants: Health, Science, Language & More Benefit
The White Salmon Valley School District received an early holiday present in the form of more than $23,000 awarded in the second granting cycle of the calendar year. Students throughout the district will benefit from the latest round of funding provided by the White Salmon Valley Education Foundation (WSVEF).
“We were really excited to receive requests and fund programs across the educational spectrum,” said WSVEF Board President Dawn Hulbert. “From social services for high schoolers, to foreign language programs for the elementary school, and science and sports enhancements for the intermediate and middle schools, these awards will touch most students in the district. It’s so gratifying to be able to help our students in so many ways.”
Four programs were the beneficiaries of the biannual $20,000 funding round. Columbia High School (CHS) and the White Salmon Academy (WSA) received a $5,000 grant to help fund the Sources of Strength, or SOS, program. SOS is a best practices program used throughout the US and abroad to create a social safety net to connect all students with peer leaders and caring adults. It has proven to increase students’ level of school engagement and connectedness to adults, as well as the likelihood a student will refer a suicidal friend to an adult. It increases the acceptability of seeking help, and positive perceptions of adult support for suicidal youth. Administrators say the SOS program is important because there is no specific suicide prevention program in place at CHS or WSA, and they currently do not have a Specialist or Social worker to assist students in distress. Suicide is the second most common cause of death for Washington teens. According to the 2016 Health Youth Survey, almost half of one CHS cohort have experienced feelings indicating clinical depression (a significantly higher percentage than the general statewide sample), nearly 20% have considered suicide and/or made a suicide plan, and 9% have attempted suicide.
Whitson Elementary School received a total of $7,500. Half that amount will go towards the final piece in an intricate puzzle that will provide Spanish language instruction for all students at the school. A digital Spanish program that runs on Chromebooks will allow one instructor to work with an entire class, and further the Spanish speaking skills of all kids, whether they are a first time or native speaker.
The other $3,750 will go towards professional development for Whitson’s third-grade and specialty teachers. As today’s classroom become more technology based, this training gives teachers the skills they need to implement and integrate that technology into the classroom in all content areas. This grant will allow Whitson to expand upon a teacher training program started last year.
Henkle Middle School (HMS) received $7,500 for Science Technology Integration in the 7th grade science classes, and 8th grade STEM elective classes. The funds will be used to purchase Chromebooks, which will increase the school’s ability to implement Next Generation Science Standards by allowing students to experience concepts through simulations, models, and hands-on manipulation. The use of technology in these areas assists in differentiation in teaching and learning for students at all different levels.
The WSVEF was also able to award an additional $3,500, which came from monies previously allocated to recipients that were not used in full.
HMS received $2,500 to start the “180 Days of Reading” program, which will provide updated classroom libraries of high-interest books reflecting the diversity of students’ experiences and interests. Middle school students have daily reading time, and these classroom libraries will give them access to literacy materials they will be excited to read.
The final $1,000 goes to WPSIS for basketball hoop height adjusters. Children using the WPSIS/HMS gym hoops range in age from 8 to 13, and the current adult-height hoops are challenging for the younger kids as they are learning. Sports are shown to foster relationships between children, and bring parents and guardians into the fold of friendship and sportsmanship.
Meantime, some changes are coming in 2019. Instead of two annual grant rounds of $20,000, the Foundation will now do one round of $40,000, with applications due just before Spring Break.
“We are constantly trying to improve the ways we support our schools,” said WSVEF Executive Director Amanda Lawrence. “Working with school leaders, we decided as a group that a single funding round with a larger dollar amount would be more helpful for educators. It will allow for bigger picture projects, and the time to plan and implement those projects for the following school year.”
Since its inception in 2006, the WSVEF has provided more than $3.3 million dollars to White Salmon's schools through direct giving and grant writing efforts.
The WSVEF is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation dedicated to enhancing the quality of public education within our community by creating a stable source of supplemental funding for educational enhancement and investment in our teachers. At least 25% of every donation goes to the WSVEF’s endowment fund, which will allow for continued grant funding into the future. For more information, or to make a donation to this valuable work, visit www.wsvef.org or call (541)490-3466.