COAL CENTER, Pa. – Twenty-nine school districts across southwestern Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio were awarded $132,858.08 in grant funding through a partnership led by Chevron, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the EQT Foundation, and the Equitrans Midstream Foundation.
Called “Innovation Grants,” the program, now in its fourth year, seeks to encourage school districts, primarily in rural communities, to develop engaging programs and curriculum with innovation and design serving as the driving force behind science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics education.
“The Innovation Grants connect students to originative and meaningful learning opportunities previously unafforded. The projects funded by these grants provide creative ways to meet curriculum standards while preparing students for the future, whether college or a career,” said Dr. Kristin Szewczyk, IU1 Assistant Executive Director. “The Intermediate Unit 1 extends its sincere gratitude to the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, the EQT Foundation, and the Equitrans Midstream Foundation for their continued support of school districts within our region.”
Since 2017, the Chevron and Benedum Foundation-led initiative has awarded more than $500,000 in Innovation Grants to schools across the region. The program was expanded with EQT’s generous support during the 2018-2019 school year; and this year the program was further expanded with support from the Equitrans Midstream Foundation.
“Mini-grants like these are incredibly valuable in tapping the creativity of frontline educators; too often the ideas that are overlooked by large-scale top-down projects. Pooling funds with the corporate sector also sends a message of cross-sector collaboration -- business, private philanthropy, and public education -- and the energy sector in particular has been strategic in the tri-state region around investments in education and workforce development. The Benedum Foundation has had a longstanding partnership with Chevron and EQT, and we are excited about Equitrans Midstream’s engagement in the culture of coordinated funding that our area’s energy companies have embraced,” says Dr. Jim Denova, Vice President, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.
Pennsylvania will have 14 projects in 11 school districts across Washington, Greene and Fayette counties funded, receiving a combined $60,828.60 for initiatives aimed at topics including coding, robotics, STEM, and digital art. In Ohio, 1 project in Belmont County will receive $5,000.00 for a robotics and engineering project. Finally, 14 projects in 9 West Virginia county school districts – Hancock, Harrison, Lewis, Marion, Marshall, Monongalia, Ohio, Preston, and Upshur – will receive a combined $67,029.48 for projects related to robotics, outdoor learning, coding, 3D printing, and engineering.
“The Innovation Grant has been one of the most beneficial grants I have received. In the 2018-2019 school year I was able to add valuable hands-on resources, this year, our school was awarded a grant to add portable manipulatives, which students can take with them and use at home or in school. These resources provide students with unique opportunities for learning they may not otherwise have. These additional resources are a tremendous asset to our classrooms, and we are excited to be a part of this program!” states Michelle Cheasty-Christ, 2020-2021 Innovation Grant recipient from Harrison County Schools in West Virginia.
Library Media Specialist, Cassandra Menhart from Carmichaels Middle-Senior High School in Greene County Pennsylvania has been able to achieve her goals through the Innovation Grants, stating “My main objective is to keep our library vibrant in a time that many schools are opting to remove them from their schools. The Innovation Grant has been instrumental in keeping our library alive by giving our students "real life" experiences. In the 2019-2020 school year, because of this grant, we were able to install a Finance Lab where students have the ability to learn about the world of finance and the stock market. Now we will be able to give students the opportunity to explore the world through flight simulation.”
NOTE: Shown below are the grants each school in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio received.