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Innovative Education, Literacy and Music Grants

Dawn Bolstad & Rene'e Schwandt brought their students from Fargo North to Ten Seven Acres. Students spent time with alpacas, horses, chickens & ducks. Students learned about farming practices and the background of each barnyard friend.

(Photo courtesy Ashley Mjoness)

Great teachers help students become great. Research shows that an inspiring teacher is the most important school related factor influencing student achievement. The Foundation awards competitive grants to Fargo Public Schools staff for innovative educational and literacy projects not funded by district, state, or federal monies. Grants are awarded to give educators a chance to pilot a new idea or to supplement something they are already doing in the classroom.

These grants are made possible through the following established endowment funds and annual contributions from the greater community.

  • Eleanor Laing Law Endowment
  • Fargo Central High Alumni Fund
  • Mary Ellen Thompson Music Fund
  • Diederich Family Fund
  • Bank of the West
  • Ella May Reames Fund
  • Gateway Chevrolet Fund
  • Gordmans
  • Harold and Dorothy Madson Fund
  • Jeannie Madson Fund
  • Vern Bennett Service Award
  • Activity and Extracurricular Endowment
  • Language, Arts, and Social Studies Endowment
  • Music and Arts Endowment
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Endowment


February 2020 Innovative Education Grants

The Foundation awarded 11 grants in February 2020 totaling $8,734.00.  Grants funded were educational projects that exhibited innovative teaching and learning techniques, were clear in their educational purpose, and directly engaged students with both short-term and long-term impact.

School Project Title Grant Author Description Grant Amount Funding Source
Clara Barton Elementary Every Day Speech Hala Qarini, Special Education Every Day Speech is a Social Learning Platform that has the help of three Speech-Language Pathologists, a video and animation team, and a web development team. The result is a comprehensive, video-based social skills curriculum. $300.00 Diederich Family Fund Endowment
Davies High School Introduction to Education Praxis Exam Lana Feeley, CTE-FACS Teacher The Praxis® tests measure the academic skills and subject-specific content knowledge needed for teaching. Students enrolled in the Introduction to Education Class will be offered this exam. This grant will help defray the costs to students. $500.00 Fargo Central Alumni Endowment
District-Wide Summer Middle School Code Ninjas Erin Kaluza, SPS MS Summer Admin Intern During summer school for middle schoolers Code Ninjas will have students group into teams to become game developers for the day. During this instructor led game building session they will create their very own video game. Students will learn fundamental coding elements needed to go into building games themselves. $2,400.00 STEM Endowment
District-Wide Elementary Enrichment Summer School Scholarships Rebecca Folden, Summer School Director Providing Scholarships for Enrichment Summer School. Enrichment Summer School provides opportunities to any elementary student interested in taking additional classes. There are a wide variety of courses to pick from ranging from arts, languages, science, math, language arts, STEAM, etc. $600.00 Language, Arts, and Social Studies Endowment
Ed Clapp Elementary School Fostering Creativity, Collaboration and Calm with a Community LEGO Wall Susan Clark, Gifted Services Teacher Using new and repurposed materials a portable LEGO wall will be constructed to serve as a multi-purpose learning tool available to all students. Use of the community LEGO wall will assist in meeting goals in the areas of math and science instruction, collaboration and creativity as part of STEAM experiences, and social-emotional regulation. $472.00 Innovative Education Endowment
Kennedy Elementary School Day of Compassion Heather Mitzel, Counselor Day of Compassion engages students to participate in many activities centered around respect, empathy, and compassion with high-school students. Throughout the day, students engage in team building exercises, experiential learning activities, games, and presentations. $1,800.00 Innovative Education Endowment
Lewis & Clark Elementary School Ukulele Grant for the Music Classrooms Fate Schuster, Music Educator This grant will introduce upper elementary music students on how to play the ukulele. The instruments will be utilized to teach proficiency in sight of reading and performance, which are both standards in the music curriculum. Ukuleles are diverse instruments that students are enthusiastic to play that can be used to express and discover themselves through music. $496.00 Music and Arts Endowment
North High School Physical Science Phenomena Eric Arness, Science Educator Provides supplies to create Bottle Racers. Students will build, test, and refine their cars to increase performance. This will engage students in the hands on engineering process and through their trials they will gather data relating to the physic topics for calculations. $500.00 STEM Endowment
North High School A Calm Classroom Brooke Kupcho, ILC Teacher Provides lighting to help students control their emotions and frustrations throughout the school day. Using warm lighting rather than overhead fluorescent lights has been proven to reduce stress and assist people in remaining calm. $58.00 Innovative Education Endowment
North High School Experiential Learning: Land and Sea Dawn Bolstad, Special ED-MI Teacher Providing experiential learning opportunities for Special Education students. They will be traveling to Doubting Thomas Farms, to allow students to share the farm to table experience first-hand. They will also travel to see the Marine Lab at Minnesota State University-Moorhead, to experience up-front access to marine life an unimaginable chance for most of these students. $408.00 Private Anonymous Donor
South High School People Really Appreciate Nice Kids (PRANK) Vanessa Boehm, Counselor Annually the senior calss at South High provides a day of activity doing service and field days with elementary students and having them celebrate the importance of graduation. It involves Ed Clapp, Eagles, Jefferson, Lincoln, Lewis & Clark, and Clara Barton/Hawthorne Elementary Schools. $1,200.00 Fargo Central Alumni Endowment

October 2019 Innovative Education Grants


The Foundation awarded 17 grants in October 2019 totaling $13,315.00.  Grants funded were educational projects that exhibited innovative teaching and learning techniques, were clear in their educational purpose, and directly engaged students with both short-term and long-term impact. 

School Project Title Grant Author Description Grant Amount Funding Source
Agassiz Educational Day Program Alcoholism Prevention: Prime for Life- Workbooks Jessica Anderson, EDP Social Worker Prime for Life is an evidence-based, therapeutic education program. It specifically addresses the needs of high-risk drinking and drug-using audiences. Each participant in Prime for Life receives their own workbook, for notetaking, self-reflection, and ultimately developing their own personal safety formula. $225.00 Fargo Central Alumni Endowment
Agassiz Even Start Program Celebrating Diversity Beth Grosz & Natasha Haugen, Even Start Teachers This celebrating diversity project is designed to expand cultural relevance in a preschool setting. Our goal is to enrich our classrooms play experience by having a healthy balance of cultural relevant toys and materials. $469.00 Innovative Education Endowment
Agassiz Building Project Clean & Confident Jennie Rude, Counselor The Source is a clothing and food pantry for Woodrow, EDP, ECSE and district-wide Student Wellness Family Facilitators. Students from all over the district use The Source to get food and clothing. We could better serve these families if donations could be washed, sorted and organized. This grant will provide a washer and dryer to help accomplish this. $2,000.00 Critical Needs Funds
Bennett Elementary Thinking Outside the Box with 3-D Printing Julia Warner, Gifted Services Teacher This project’s goal is to leverage the power of technology in order to increase rigor, challenge, complexity, problem-solving, and 21st Century learning skills with the students at Bennett Elementary. $1,000.00 STEM Endowment
Clara Barton Elementary Calming Baskets Steffanie Jorgenson, Counselor Calming baskets are used by students who need various sensory input to assist them with stress, anger or any feeling that could impede their focus at school. Each student in Clara Barton and Hawthorne is taught how to use these tools in an appropriate and helpful manner. $250.00 Fargo Central Alumni Endowment
Fargo Davies High School Building Communities through Drum Circles Darcy Brandenburg, Music Teacher This grant will help provide an adaptive music class experience learning with the interactive and collaborative experience of drum circles. $750.00 Music and Arts Endowment
All Elementary Schools Hear for the Kids: Podcast Carly Gaddie, SWFF; Cassie Larson, School Counselor A podcast dedicated to social emotional learning designed to educate and empower families of elementary students district wide. Through the podcast, parents/students/staff will be provided information related to parenting, mental health, relationships, and support in the community. $700.00 Diederich Family Fund Endowment
All Elementary Schools Talk on the Playground- An Inclusive Initiative Whitney Mead, Speech Pathologist Alyce Wiemken, AT Consultant An inclusive school has the responsibility to promote social-emotional learning for ALL students. Some students use forms of communication other than traditional speech. This grant will create communication signs for some of our elementary playgrounds that would foster social engagement and experiences for ALL students. $400.00 Fargo Central Alumni Endowment
District-Wide Reducing Barriers to School Attendance Amy Riccio, Student Wellness Facilitator By reducing barriers to student attendance, students will be ready to learn and engage in school. Student Wellness Family Facilitators (SWFF) work directly with at risk K-12 students throughout the district. By providing basic needs to students struggling with attendance, barriers can be removed which would improve attendance and ensure the highest possible student achievement in both academic and behavioral areas. $500.00 Critical Needs Funds
Fargo South High School Individualized Learning Center Light Therapy Trisha Miller, ILC Teacher Provide therapy lights in the ILC classroom at South High to heighten focus and energy as many at-risk students deal with SAD (seasonal affect disorder). $240.00 Innovative Education Endowment
Washington Elementary STEAM Bins Rebekah Olson, Kindergarten Teacher Kindergarten students will use STEAM bins to explore and create with hands-on materials as well as learn to collaborate and problem solve by sharing the materials while working with other students. $381.00 STEM Endowment
Woodrow Wilson High School Young Adult Book Club Rebecca Pittenger, Library Media Specialist Students of Woodrow Wilson Alternative High School will be invited to join a young adult book club. Books relating to high school social problems will be given priority. Books that help mentor high school students in social skills will also be chosen in hopes of reducing at-risk behavior. $500.00 Language, Arts, and Social Studies Endowment

Eleanor Laing Law Fund grant used to create traveling library collections that move between classrooms at Madison Elementary..

(Image courtesy Deb Hoss)


The Eleanor Laing Law Endowed Fund supports innovative literacy and library projects in the Fargo Public Schools. 

Eleanor was a 1930 graduate of Fargo Central High School and was  employed by the Fargo Public School District in 1937 as an English and Journalism teacher at Agassiz Junior High School.  She entered the military during World War II and eventually settled in San Diego with her husband, Charles Law.




2020-2021 Eleanor Laing Law Literacy Grants

School Project Title Grant Author Description Grant Amount
Eagles Elementary Browsing with Ease Jennifer Hess, Library Media Specialist This project will help students easily find books in the library. This will increase their reading, encourage a love of books and develop independence in the library. It will also help students meet library standards and promote a culture of reading within Eagles Elementary. $5,330.00
Eagles Elementary Literacy Footprints~First Grade Erica Johnson, Grade One Teacher Providing Literacy Footprints for first grade students at Eagles Elementary. Literacy Footprints is a Guided Reading system designed for classroom teachers, intervention, ELL, Special Education teachers, and support staff who are teaching children to read and write. $4,400.00
Fargo South High School Healing Trauma Through Expressive Therapies Leah Juelke, ELL-Language Arts Teacher This project provides resources for Fargo South High School refugee and immigrant students so they may express themselves and teach others through their narrative stories, poems and artwork. $7,207.00

2019-2020 Eleanor Laing Law Literacy Grants

School Project Title Grant Author Description Grant Amount
All Elementary Schools Matthew Cordell Author Visit Amy Soma, District Library Administrator Supported a visit from award winning author and Illustrator Matthew Cordell to all the elementary schools in FPS. Matthew Cordell is the Caldecott Medal winning author and illustrator of Wolf and the Snow, and the illustrator of numerous highly acclaimed children’s books including The Only Fish in the Sea and Special Delivery (both by Caldecott Medal winning author, Philip C. Stead), First Grade Dropout and Second Grade Holdout (both by Audrey Vernick), The Knowing Book, Bob Not Bob, If the S in Moose Comes Loose, Rock ‘n’ Roll Soul, and the wildly popular Justin Case series. Matt is also the author and illustrator of many celebrated picture books including Another Brother, Wish, Dream, and Hello! Hello! $12,500.00
Discovery Middle School 6th Grade Literature Circles and Vocabulary Laura Kowatch & Shella Schneider, Language Arts Teachers An introduction of new and engaging titles for literature circles to give students “voice in choice” at Discovery in 6th grade English Language Arts. Literature circles support 21st Century Skills, support student achievement and growth, and engage students in reading. A collection of new titles is requested to help support student inquiry and engagement. $961.00
Ed Clapp Elementary Shared Inquiry: Interpretation, Justification and Understanding in Language Arts Enrichment Susan Clark, Gifted Services Providing materials to embed the shared inquiry method of learning into Ed Clapp Elementary gifted services language arts program. $1,656.00
Longfellow Elementary Footprints for Literacy Regan Teslaw, 1st Grade Teacher Guided Reading books with lesson guides that support our teachers’ new professional development. Goal is to provide research based small group literacy lessons to all students at Longfellow. $4,575.00
Fargo South High School Healing Trauma Through Expressive Therapies While Spreading Cultural Awareness Leah Julke, ELL- Language Arts Fargo South High School refugee and immigrant students express themselves and teach others through their narrative stories, poems and artwork. $7,207.00
Washington Elementary Mini iPads for Setting C Peggy Simonson, Special Ed Teacher Supporting four iPad Minis with cases to use for literacy instruction in our setting C classroom. $1,400.00

2019-20 Mary Ellen Thompson Music Funds

The Mary Ellen Thompson Music Fund was established by her daughters Jackie, Liz and Daphne to honor their mothers love for music. “Our Mother had a deep understanding of the stresses experienced by elementary music educators and believed strongly in music education at that level, knowing what that could mean for children’s futures. She believed music made children better listeners, better learners, and allowed them to express themselves creatively through their personal expression and joy of music.”  

School Project Title Grant Author Description Grant Amount
All Elementary Schools Cello-bration Day Leah Ruef, Music/Orchestra Cello-bration Day is a one-day event to bring together students of all ages who play the cello. This event is open to all cellists ranging from 5th grade through 12th grade. Students who participate in Cello-bration Day will rehearse with local professional cellists along with guest cellist Dr. Tulio Rondon from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. $1,000.00
Kennedy Elementary Ukelele Project Pamela J. Gafkjen, Music Teacher Kennedy Elementary will be launching the Ukulele Project with 5th grade students as a teaching unit and integration throughout the school year. Instruction would occur in the music classroom and expand to outside performances and collaboration with other musical ensembles. $900.00
Roosevelt Elementary Piano Lab Project LeeAnn Kramlich, Music Teacher The Piano Lab project will take place in the general music classrooms. This project will begin with grades 3-5. Students will develop skills on the piano while incorporating their music reading and writing skills. Piano skills are beneficial for all musicians. The project will include group piano lessons, practice time and private instruction. $1,500.00

2019-20 Impacts...Thank You!

  • 34 Innovative Ed, Literacy & Music Grants

    Totaling $50,108

  • 116 Scholarships Funded

    Totaling $100,600

  • 3,500 Students Receiving Critical Needs Help

    Totaling $169,951

  • All 2019-20 Emergency Lunch Debt Covered

    Funds Raised $52,615

Thank you to our Adopt-A-School Partners!

© 2020 Fargo Public Schools Development Foundation

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