NORTH KINGSTOWN- A year ago the North Kingstown Educational Foundation (NKEF) was formed in part due to changes in the Rhode Island state law that now prohibits requiring parents to pay for student field trip activities.
Primed with a mission to help students across the district, the foundation has continued to grow ever since.
Last week the foundation was able to put its mission to work when it provided Wickford Middle School with the first official NKEF Wave Grant.
The grant was applied for by Wickford Middle School (WMS) physical education teachers, Lynne Huber & Kevin Littlefield in December, in order to ensure students can continue to have the best physical education classes possible during the pandemic.
“This grant proposal was due to the current COVID pandemic. The request was for the purchase of more physical education equipment so that student classroom pods were not sharing any equipment and each student had their own materials to use for the class,” NKEF President Robyn Albuquerque and Vice President Dawn Masterson wrote in an email. “This equipment will engage all student classroom pods in physical activity while maintaining and following all safety guidelines. It will, also, allow WMS PE staff to provide pod-specific activity bags and equipment and allow us to ‘take it outside’ as much as possible.”
After receiving the grant, the PE teachers said the equipment will be a huge help for students.
“Mr. Littlefield and I are extremely excited for our students to benefit from this grant,” said Huber. “We came into this school year understanding just how important and crucial it will be for our WMS students to actively engage in physical activity for both their physical and mental health. We are grateful to receive this grant and thank all individuals who made this possible for our students.”
NKEF has two different grants that any North Kingstown School District certified staff member including teachers, support personnel (such as nurses and guidance counselors etc.), and administration can apply for.
The first type of grant is for amounts under $1,000, which are called Wave Grants. These grant applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the funds are exhausted, and are intended to benefit students and be spent within the current school year.
For grants over $1,000 known as a “Tide Grant” there is an application process and deadline. These grants are awarded at the foundation Kickoff to Summer Celebration in June for the following school year.
In order to determine who to award grants to, the NKEF Grant Committee meets to review and evaluate proposals based on specific criteria, and then votes on the approval of each grant. The foundation leaders explained that the grant committee is made up of individuals who have had years of experience in education and who have no direct connections to the North Kingstown School District.
The foundation leaders stated that the type of projects they are hoping to fund would promote student excellence in the North Kingstown School District, encourage collaboration and community partnerships, have a direct and immediate impact with the target audience, complement and enrich existing curricula, and are innovative approaches to teaching and learning.
Aside from the changes to the field trip funding laws, the non-profit foundation saw a need to help fund different things in the district that may not be funded otherwise through grants.
“There was a need in NK for additional funding to support extra curricular activities. The NKEF was created to enrich and increase the educational experience in North Kingstown by partnering with the community to finance projects that will offer opportunities to strengthen the core curriculum and to expand the minds of NK students,” Albuquerque and Masterson stated.
Some of the goals of the foundation include providing funding for projects that further the students educational experiences, as well as invest in teaching and learning initiatives that are beyond the scope of those funded by the school district.
For the month of February, the foundation has been engaged in a month-long event to not only help encourage reading but to also help raise funds.
They’ve been doing so by hosting a month-long, district wide Read-A-Thon fundraiser which includes a calendar of events throughout the month to encourage everyone to “Catch the Reading Wave.”
The foundation leaders also explained that the event hosts a fundraising option for members of the community and children of all ages to register, read and collect donations to benefit the NKEF.
“Teams can be made up of any group of individuals willing to read to support the NKEF. There are team challenges, prizes and incentives per-week, as well. Anyone can join at any time and start reading,” Albuquerque and Masterson wrote. “Students and families who register can join their school team and help their school earn a $500 grant each week for the most funds raised per week for the month of February.”
As of Tuesday there are 72 readers, 5,432 minutes read and $2,900 raised through the fundraiser.
Being presented with $500 was Fishing Cove School Principal Colleen Loughlin, who earned the Catch the Reading Wave Read-a-thon grant for the first week.
Foundation leaders said that the $500 grant will be used for supplemental literacy materials.
Over the course of the month, $2000 in grants will be awarded to encourage reading in NK schools, awarding $500 a week.
Other fundraisers that the foundation has hosted include Golf Day, Spook Out NK, Family Portraits, and Light Up NK. NKEF has also been able to collect donations from individuals and businesses.
After being able to award its first grant, Albuquerque and Masterson hope to continue helping students across the district through the help of the community.
“The NKEF funding directly drives the ability to award grants,” Albuquerque and Masterson wrote. “Donations are accepted on our website and corporate sponsorship opportunities are also available.”
For more information about NKEF visit https://nkefoundation.org/