Release Date: May 27,2021

Summit County Educators Receive Grants from GAR Foundation for Classroom-Based Projects

AKRON, Ohio (May 27, 2021) — GAR Foundation announced $350,000 in funding to 39 teams of educators through its annual Educator Initiative Grant (EIG) program. The EIG program offers grants to K-12 educators in Summit County’s public and nonprofit private schools who present classroom innovations to support student success.

“With so much extra work for teachers helping students during this stressful COVID year, we streamlined our application process in the hopes of getting more applications from teaching teams. We were not disappointed! The ideas and innovative work submitted by our Summit County educators is outstanding,” said Kirstin Toth, senior vice president of GAR Foundation.

Many projects addressed social-emotional learning, college and career pathway building drawing on community resources and speakers, and supporting interactive approaches that address racial equity, gap-closing, and a diverse learning environment for students. “We’re so excited to see these projects come to fruition in the coming academic year,” added Toth.

Some grants include a collaborative and inter-district approach. Akron Public School’s North High School will partner with Hudson High School to share experiences related to cultural awareness, bridge-building and anti-racism through their joint project called “My Voice, My Story, My Self: Exploring My Identity, Valuing Yours.” Students will co-develop projects that represent their identity through sound, art and theatre.

Cuyahoga Falls High School will have key community leaders help facilitate their Student Caucus of Color to provide a platform for student voice with teachers and staff.

In other awards, Bridges Learning Center received the second year of funding for a trauma-informed instructional program called “It’s [Still] All the RAGE! (Regulation: Access to Growing Emotionally)”.

The school-wide program is designed to empower both student and staff wellness by embedding therapeutic input into practical lesson planning across all grade levels and content areas. The specialty school in Akron Public Schools also received a grant to support music and art therapy exploration in helping students tell their life stories. The program builds on existing trauma-informed strategies with the goal of strengthening student self-regulation and social-emotional intelligence.

More than $5.3 million has been deployed into local classrooms since the inception of the Educator Initiative Grant program in 2004.

“We know that school continues to challenge families given the stress brought on by the pandemic,” said Lucille Esposito, EIG program manager for GAR Foundation. “Yet we value the enthusiasm and creativity displayed by all of our applicants this year. We see this grant program as not only continuing to add value but perhaps more so than ever before as schools begin to redesign teaching and learning methods and approaches.”

The Foundation announced the GAR Educator Conference will take place every other year and will resume in the fall of 2022. The free conference brings together Summit County K-12 educators to uplift innovative strategies for student engagement and success.