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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.

 If you would like to support innovative education, literacy or music grants you can donate online by selecting any of the links below or utilize the below printable donation form. We are deeply grateful for your support and the impact your donation will make! 

February 2021 Innovative Education Grants

The Foundation awarded six grants in February 2021 totaling $5,466.00.  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
Adult Education Center~ Even Start Program Summer Soar Kits Holly Hulne, ALC & Even Start Social Worker Summer Soar Kits will be handed out to students enrolled in the Summer Even Start Family Literacy Program to continue to promote and practice family literacy skill building. $500.00 Vern Bennett Service Award
Clara Barton Everyday Speech Hala Qarini, Special Education Teacher Everyday Speech is a social emotional learning platform that offers comprehensive, organized lessons with videos, activities, visuals, and games that are ready at your fingertips. $300.00 Fargo Central Alumni Endowment
Davies High School Exercise Buddy Pro in the Adapted PE Classroom Carolyn Olson, Physical Education Teacher Exercise Buddy Professional App will be used in Adapted PE classrooms to create individualized workouts for students. Helping to connect them with physical activity. $504.00 Diederich Family Fund
District-Wide Elementary Enrichment Summer School Scholarships Rebecca Folden, Summer School Director Providing elementary summer school enrichment scholarship opportunities for those in need. $600.00 STEM Endowment
North High School Fargo North High Improv Club Podcast J.J. Gordon, FNH Improve Club Advisor The Fargo North Improv Club will launch a fully produced podcast based off of their original comedy content created during rehearsals that will allow them to engage with audiences across the globe. $1,062.00 Music and Arts Endowment
Trollwood STAR (STudents At Risk) Program Kathy Anderson, Executive Director This nationally recognized youth program uses the arts as a tool to empower at-risk youth to take charge of their own lives and inspires them to find success in school, in work and in life. Through STAR, these students will receive arts training, transportation, supplies, meals and adult mentors who offered instruction, motivation and guidance to build life skills that will hopefully allow them to deal more effectively with future challenges. $2,500.00 Music and Arts Endowment

October 2020 Innovative Education Grants


The Foundation awarded 5 grants in October 2020 totaling $8,196.00. Proposals that ranked the highest exhibited innovative teaching and learning techniques, supported the Districts Strategic Initiative 1 and 2, and directly engaged students with both short and long-term impacts.

School Project Title Grant Author Description Grant Amount Funding Source
Davies High School Feel the Music Darcy Brandenburg, Adaptive Music/Band This grant will provide a Theremin, music lights, and tactile musical instruments that will allow special learners additional ways to connect to the power of music. $2,100.00 Music and Arts Endowment
Eagles Elementary Equity and Inclusion in Classroom Libraries Kimmy Milligan, Dean of Students This grant will help ensure that classroom libraries meet the diverse needs of students at Eagles Elementary. $1,500.00 Annual Innovative Education Donations
Ed Clapp Elementary Thinking Skills Groups: Addressing Inequity in Gifted Programming Susan Clark, Gifted Services This project supports an on-going effort to develop and implement an alternative route to identification of primary students for gifted services. The goal of these efforts is to identify students who are traditionally under-identified and underrepresented in gifted programming. Funding of this project will provide thinking games and puzzles and other teaching materials for use in small group thinking skills lessons. $472.00 Fargo Central Alumni Endowment
Jefferson Elementary Jefferson Elementary STEAM Lab Paula Nelson, Library Media Specialist This grant will support a STEAM Lab. STEAM Lab is a space where activities are focused on the 21st Century Skills of collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking. STEAM Lab will be offered for students as part of their classroom instruction, as enrichment, or as part of a club atmosphere. $2,333.00 STEM Endowment
South High School Improv Podcasting Kevin Kennedy, Fargo South Drama Director A grant to support an alternative means to perform, utilizing podcasts for short form improv pieces with the Fargo South troupe and other troupes in the District. These pieces would be comedy podcasts of anywhere from 5-30 minutes long. $1,791.00 Music and Arts 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.






2021-2022 Eleanor Laing Law Literacy Grants

School Project Title Grant Author Description Grant Amount
Clara Barton/Hawthorn Elementary Literacy Footprints- Second & Fourth Grade Kits Mya Heston, Teacher (Student Performance Strategist) Providing Literacy Footprints Kits for 2nd and 4th grade students at CBH. 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. $4,779.00
All Elementary Schools Reflecting Diversity Through Literature Brenda Cain, Library Media Specialist Supporting a visit from award winning author Derrick Barnes at all the elementary schools in Fargo Public Schools. $17,500.00
Eagles Elementary Eagles Book Vending Machine Jennifer Hess, Library Media Specialist The Eagles Book Vending Machine will be used as an incentive for students to encourage reading, social-emotional learning, and support a positive and safe school culture. $4,690.00

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

Mary Ellen Thompson Music Fund

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.”  

2020-21 Mary Ellen Thompson Music Grants

School Project Title Grant Author Description Grant Amount
Centennial Elementary Ukulele Ensemble Katherine Knapp, Elementary Music Specialist Students in 5th grade will have the opportunity to learn to play an instrument that is not typical for the elementary classroom. In learning to play the ukulele, students will develop music reading skills that can transfer into middle and high school music programs. $1,398.00
Eagles Elementary Ukulele Fun! Krista Salzer, Elementary Music Specialist This grant is written to purchase a class set of ukuleles’ for 4th and 5th grade students to use in music class. $1,500.00
Eagles Elementary Equity and Inclusion, Music & Podcasts Kimmy Milligan, Dean of Students This grant will incorporate cultural music in PE class, promoting unity and diversity. $800.00
Lewis & Clark Elementary Ukulele Addition Gretchen Byer, Elementary Music Specialist This grant will add an additional 7 ukuleles so each music classroom at Lewis & Clark will have 12 ukuleles. This will allow more opportunities for students to play the instruments. $399.00

2019-20 Mary Ellen Thompson Music Fund Grants

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!

© 2021 Fargo Public Schools Development Foundation

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