The Schenectady Education Fund may be on track to fund more teacher grants this year than ever before after receiving two of its largest donations in history and working to support numerous student and teacher needs.
The foundation, which annually hosts a gala fundraiser and funds grants to teachers for extra activities, classroom supplies and more, already funded about $14,000 spread across 37 teacher grants this fall and has a second round of grants currently open for application.
Hannaford Supermarkets on Wednesday strengthened the foundation’s grant-giving strength with a $32,000 donation. Earlier this fall, the foundation received a $10,000 donation from the Fox Family Foundation.
Jim Masi, president of the foundation’s board of directors, on Wednesday said the donations rank among the largest in the foundation’s history and will power numerous grants for teachers to buy books, headphones and other supplies to support students learning – items the district would not typically fund.
“We are providing opportunities for teachers and students to purchase things they would not normally be able to do and enhance that in person and online instruction,” Masi said. “They are really appreciative because it’s above and beyond.”
The foundation usually funds two rounds of grants – one in the fall and one in the spring – and typically raises around $15,000 during its annual January education gala event. This year the foundation is developing an online raffle and soliciting donations in lieu of an in-person event.
The foundation also opened a second round of grants that teachers can apply for until sometime around Jan. 1; that round will likely fund much more than $14,000 in grants supported earlier this year. Masi said the foundation has about $15,000 of its own money and will use about $25,000 of the Hannaford donation to support the grants. “That’s a lot of grants,” he said.
Teachers in the first round of grants this year sought things to support virtual learning for students, including numerous books to deliver to students’ homes. One of the more creative grants sought funding for a generator to power the off-site filming of virtual field trip lessons that Schenectady High School biology teachers asked for and received earlier this year.
Part of the Hannaford donation will also be used to fund internet service for around 55 Schenectady households for the remainder of the school year, impacting about 80 students. Masi said the foundation worked with the district to identify households most in need of internet service.
“Hannaford strongly believes that all children should have access to a quality education,” Hannaford Director of Operations Andy Willette said in a statement. “We hope this donation makes education even more accessible and fosters a love of learning for children in our community.”
Hannaford also donated $75,000 to the comparable Albany Fund for Education to purchase as many as 400 laptops for students in the Albany district, which has struggled more than Schenectady to ensure every student has access to their own computer device.