Foundation awards mini-grants to Villa Park Elementary District 45 staff

The Villa Park Elementary District 45 Foundation for Excellence in Education went on a "Surprise Patrol" recently by visiting district staff awarded fall mini-grants for the 2022-23 school year.

With giant checks in hand, foundation board members Lynda Wilson, Rae Srch, Peg Egan, and Linda Nystrom arrived at schools with Superintendent Dr. Tony Palmisano to surprise each of the mini-grant recipients with news of their award.

Four mini-grants were awarded, totaling $2,744.68.

One of the mini-grants awarded was to Leticia Carmona, parent liaison in District 45, and Fred Leinweber, principal at North School.

Their proposal, the Latino Family Literacy Project, encourages literacy at home by curating books written in English and Spanish.

In partnership with the Villa Park Public Library, the program will support community learning and academic enrichment opportunities for children during non-school hours.

The mini-grant will allow the project to acquire books, materials, training, and supplies, to engage District 45 bilingual families in their child's education through literacy support for families.

According to Carmona, the project will also allow participating families to grow stronger ties with their children.

"I was thrilled to learn that our project had been selected," Carmona said. "As a child of immigrant parents, student and family literacy are so important to me. Our program embraces the learning process by engaging the whole family."

In November, the Foundation invited District 45 staff to apply for mini-grants and fire up their creativity for new and innovative projects that were not within District 45's normal operating budget.

Then, in early December, the foundation's board of directors carefully reviewed the mini-grant applications they received and arrived at four winning proposals.

For the fall of the 2022-23 school year, mini-grants of no more than $1,000 were awarded.

The Foundation offered mini-grants this year in addition to the regular grant program offered each spring.

Villa Park Elementary District 45 staff will be able to apply for the regular grants beginning in February of 2023, with program implementation in the 2023-24 school year.

Mini-grants were awarded to:

• Latino Family Literacy Project: Leticia Carmona and Fred Leinweber, North Elementary School, $837.52;

• Let's Get Growing!: Christina Rees and Tracy Shockey, Stevenson Elementary, $475;

• Friday Fun: Beth Shanahan, Taylor Nunley, and Jennifer Zappas, Ardmore Elementary, $975.21;

• Sensory Play, Learning the Fun Way: Beth Shanahan and Anne Blyth, Ardmore Elementary, $456.95.

Throughout the year, the District 45 Foundation for Excellence in Education raises funds for regular grants and mini-grants.

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