Article: HCCF and Me

I wanted to share a recent article that appeared in the Hampshire Review on 6/29/16. The Hampshire Review is a local newspaper, and the article is all about the teacher mini-grants from the Hampshire County Community Foundation. Some of you may remember that I received one of these grants last fall to receive a Bee-Bot, mat, and the curriculum to go along with him. The only reason I retyped the article was because it was such an awkwardly long length, and couldn’t be read easily. I retyped it as it appeared, including any mistakes.

The Hampshire County Community Foundation provided teacher mini-grants to 23 different teachers during the 2015 to 2016 school year that recently concluded. From poetry and painting to bee-bot computer programming, Hampshire County Schools received funding for teacher-proposed projects.

Romney Elementary School art teacher Mary Conlon applied to the grant and received the funding to purchase mesh display boards for student art.

“I just think it’s nice to have kind of a footprint,” said Conlon. “Being an art teacher, and a traveling one, I’ve always felt like having a lot of display work around because the kids like it and it also leaves a footprint for the program.”

The display boards can be placed at various local businesses during the year to show case student work and, since they are partially made of mesh, they can be easily taken down and stored away when necessary.

Conlon, like all of the participating teachers, could apply for a grant up to $250 for a school related project or equipment.

“I think the mini grants are a great idea. It lets people test something out and do things in ways they maybe wouldn’t have done,” said Conlon. “I feel like I got a lot out of this. Sometimes you don’t want to take a big risk, but you’ll take a little risk and see what comes of it.”

Capon Bridge Middle School and Slanesville Elementary School teacher Rachel Burkett also received a HCCF teacher mini grant, which she used to purchase a bee shaped robot, “Bee-Bot”. The goal of Bee-Bot is to provide a programming foundation for students to enhance their skills in technology.

“The students learn how to program him (Bee-Bot) to complete movements on a grid,” said Burkett. “The curriculum provides challenges from very easy to very hard.”

Sharing that she first discovered the robot from the Carnegie program during a science night at the Hampshire County Public Library, Burkett knew that she wanted the robot.

“I was a technology specialist this year and this was part of my coding club at Slanesville Elementary School,” she said. Students utilized Bee-Bot both in groups and individually to work through programming challenges.

Burkett expressed appreciation for the grant and shared that the modest grant goes a long way in providing for the classroom. “I would say if a teacher could take advantage of it, they certainly should,” she said. “It’s a great way to get certain projects funded and if you can’t fund things or the
school can’t fund it, it’s a great way to get materials for the classroom.

A total of 24 grants were awarded for a total of $4,955 to teachers within the county. Augusta Elementary, Capon Bridge Middle School, Hampshire High School, Romney Elementary, Romney Middle, Slanesville Elementary and the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind were the schools where teachers received mini grants and approximately 1,136 students were impacted by
the grants.

The Hampshire County Community Foundation, along with the Hardy County Community Foundation, is an affiliate of the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation, which was funded in 1995. The EWVCF foundation builds permanent endowment dedicated to improving the quality of life within the counties of Hampshire, Hardy, Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan Counties.

The HCCF helps to locally facilitate philanthropic activities from area donors that make donations to charitable organizations. The foundation helps those donors make informed, meaningful, and strategic gifts while also providing local nonprofit organizations with an opportunity to invest and build permanent endowments.

Individuals, corporations, private foundations, and nonprofit organizations can donate to fields they’re passionate about such as education, the arts, the environment, community wellness, and faith. A variety of gifts can be used by the HCCF including cash, securities, real assets, retirement funds, insurance, and bequests.

The gifts from donors that create endowed funds that are agreed upon by both the donor and the HCCF include unrestricted funds, donor advised funds, donor designated funds, scholarship funds or field of interest funds. The gifts are then distributed in the form of student scholarships and educational grants as well as grants to charitable organizations.

Hampshire County teachers can apply for a new round of mini grants when the new school year begins and information on the Hampshire County Community Foundation can be found on their website at: Interested donors can also donate to the teacher mini-grant fund.

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