Goleta Education Foundation Awards Innovation Grants to Educators

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Source: The Goleta Education Foundation

The Goleta Education Foundation (GEF) recently awarded almost $10,000 to Goleta Union School District (GUSD) educators through its Innovation Grants program. Innovation Grants provide educators with the funds necessary to bring creative solutions into the school environment to address specific challenges. Innovation Grants were established three years ago by GEF as an avenue to assist educators in pursuit of new ways to teach students in elementary school. 
This year, five Innovation Grants were awarded ranging from $1,100 to $2,500. The most prevalent theme in the winning grants this year was inclusion. Grants were awarded to support functional communication for students with the most intensive needs and functional technology skills for students with significant cognitive and/or physical disabilities. Both of these grants provide additional resources to special education students, helping to ensure they are receiving the educational benefits similar to their general education peers. A third Innovation Grant was awarded to fund an after-school enrichment program to help special and general education students learn exercises and skills that will help them function better on the playground and beyond. As part of the program, all students will be given opportunities to lead and assist each other. 

The other two grants awarded by GEF this year support a lunchtime ecology club and an outdoor, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) learning environment. The lunchtime ecology club promotes responsible environmental practices at school and supports the lunchtime compost and food-share program implemented by the Santa Barbara County Public Works Department. The outdoor learning environment built using the Innovation Grant funds will have a bird and butterfly habitat, a solar-powered hydroponic garden system, and a whole class learning space. The new learning environment will allow for project-based learning experiences where students collaborate in groups of peers and parents to practice and apply the skills of critical thinking, creativity, and communication and inquiry. 
Innovation Grants are funded exclusively through the annual Lemon Run, presented every September by the Goleta Education Foundation. Corporate sponsorships provide the majority of the funds that support this program/initiative, with private donations ranging from $25-$500 made during the Lemon Run registration process also contributing. GEF sincerely appreciates the generosity of our premier sponsors, Towbes Foundation and Montecito Bank and Trust, in helping to make Innovation Grants a reality for our educators.

Due to the enduring pandemic and to maintain the health and safety of our community, GEF will not be holding the Lemon Run this fall. Without the event sponsorships for Lemon Run, GEF must rely solely on private donations and the generosity of our supporters to offer Innovation Grants to GUSD educators during the 2020-2021 academic school year. 
The Goleta Education Foundation engages the community to invest in and enhance an excellent educational experience for all students attending schools in the Goleta Union School District. GEF offers support for all the schools in the District, with the goal of creating parity across all educational programs for a variety of learning groups. The Goleta Education Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization. To learn more or make a tax-deductible donation, please visit www.GoletaEd.org. 

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