The ‘redefinED Atlanta Innovation Fund: Pandemic Education & Restart’ Grants 14 Atlanta Public Schools Initiatives

The redefinED Atlanta Innovation Fund: Pandemic Education & Restart has awarded a total of $116,699 in grants to support 14 Atlanta Public Schools initiatives. Grant recipients will use designated funds to address immediate needs created by the pandemic and advance innovative ideas that reimagine education for the future.

The funded initiatives vary in scope, including $5,000 that will support virtual clubs at Cleveland Avenue Elementary and $10,000 that will support STEM projects at M. Agnes Jones Elementary School.

M. Agnes Jones (MAJ) is elated to have received $10,000 from The redefinED Atlanta Innovation Fund to implement the school’s goal of cultivating creativity through competition,” said Assistant Principal Shelante’ Patton, Ed.D. “With this initiative, the school aims to expose its students to more unique learning opportunities beyond the classroom experience. By entering MAJ’s scholars into various engineering, robotics, artistic, and technological competitions, we seek, with the aid of the grant, to cultivate their 21st century learning skills, acquaint them with fellow innovators from across the nation, and ignite a passion for discovery.”

“MAJ has targeted a variety of innovative competitions throughout the state for our scholars to participate in,” Patton continued. “This includes the GoKart Green Power Competition and a Synchronized Drone Dancing Competition. The funds will be used to purchase drones, a Green Power Car and various other resources to assist with getting students prepared for 21st century competitions that are not only designed to inspire, but prepare them for the future. Students not engaging in competitive races will also gain exposure to the equipment through their use as standards-aligned instructional tools during lessons in the school’s two STEAM labs. During the preparation phase, scholars will be introduced to the equipment virtually and gain practice through virtual instruction.”

At Dobbs Elementary School, $7,108 will support the implementation of The Black Education L.O.V.E. Project, an organization that supports literacy development through supplemental lesson/instruction rooted in Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.

“The project will target a total of 250 students in grades 3-5 to engage in a self-guided, web-based platform that highlights the brilliance and beauty of Black life, history, and culture in Atlanta while deepening key literacy skills,” said Principal Tiffany Ragin. “We intend to use this project as a means to promote SEL and literacy integration.  Additionally with this grant, the intent is to provide an online resource that will support teachers reinforcing literacy skills while engaging students in content that addresses the richness of Atlanta’s Black community, historically and present day, through question-driven pedagogy, student-choice, and student-led ingenuity via a digital platform. Dobbs is grateful to redefinED for this opportunity to not only enhance our scholar’s literacy skills, but to provide students an opportunity to delve deeper into the rich Heritage of our community.” 

Harper Archer Elementary School will also utilize its $10,523 grant to support literacy initiatives.

“Once again, redefinED Atlanta has done it again for our school community,” said Principal Dione Simone. “Being a recipient of the redefinED Atlanta Innovation Fund: Pandemic Education & Restart grant has contributed to our mission of lovingly preparing all scholars to blaze a path towards their college and career choice. Specifically, these funds will help us to create an SEL-based Kindergarten-second grade Principal’s Book of the Month club. Each month, every scholar in grades Kindergarten-second grade will have the opportunity to read, write, speak and think about a shared text that has been read by me. Scholars will receive the selected SEL set of books and read with me as I read the books live on our YouTube channel. After the reading, the scholars will collaborate with their classroom teacher and peers to create a product of choice (i.e. via Flipgrid, work of art). Scholars will use this product to communicate what they’ve learned, as well as, to express their feelings about what they learned through reading and discussion.”

A redefinED grant of $11,794 will support three programs at Beecher Hills Elementary: Wonderful Wednesday Enrichment, Primary Extended Day, and The Mindfulness Project.

“The extended day and Wednesday enrichment programs provide personalized learning experiences that engage students in areas based on their needs and interests,” said Principal Crystal Jones. “The Mindfulness Project seeks to help students process the anxiety, depression, stress, economic hardships and grieve the loss of family and friends brought on by the pandemic so that they can focus on learning by brining mindfulness, mediation, and yoga to our school community.”

Also in the Mays Cluster, Jean Childs Young Middle School will apply its $10,000 grant towards a new wrap-around center, The Den, which will “provide targeted support to specific students and families by providing basic needs and SEL support,” said Assistant Principal Keisha Gibbons. “These supports would be specific to monthly grooming needs, mentorships and social emotional connections with caring adults through the ‘I’m a Father First Program.’  Students will have sessions called “King Talks.” These bi-monthly sessions are paired with guided book studies to allow students to talk through their current issues and feelings.” 

In the Jackson Cluster, Benteen Elementary will apply its $8,500 grant towards The Frederick Wilson Benteen Elementary School Foundation.

“Benteen Elementary School is in a literary desert, and there is no public library within a 3-mile radius of the school,” explained Principal Andrew Lovett, Jr., Ph. D. “The funds will ensure that all students at Benteen Elementary have access to free books of their own choosing, engage parents/caregivers at initial distributions, and involve teachers to ensure that books are related to each student’s reading level and to encourage students to continue reading.

The entire Jackson Cluster will also benefit from a $13,400 grant that will support The Family Innovation Network, which “provides an opportunity to pilot bringing together a small group of parents and caregivers of students from the Jackson Cluster to learn with and from one another about strategies to support students’ learning and development at home during this period of remote instruction,” said Matthew Underwood, executive director of the Office of Innovation. “Our intention is to use these funds to help parents try out innovative ideas that we hope to then share with school leaders and other parents to take hold elsewhere to support student learning whether it happens in the classroom or at the kitchen table.”

Additional recipients include Dunbar Elementary ($4,800), which will provide STEM Kits to 300 students to facilitate hands-on instruction; Centennial Elementary ($5,000), which will support 180 students in the Beyond the Bell academic intervention program; Charles Drew Charter School ($15,000), which will develop and implement a whole-child wellness program; KIPP Atlanta Collegiate ($2,500), which will expand its use of Securely Classroom to include Securely Home; KIPP Woodson Park ($5,045), which will support the asynchronous lesson planning for eight teachers; and Wesley International ($8,030), which will expand anti-racist staff book study to students and parents.

The grant was open to Atlanta Public Schools and nonprofit organizations that serve students/families within the city of Atlanta. Applicants were required to align their proposal to one or more of Transcend Education’s 10 Leaps for Equitable, 21st-Century Learning. Learn more at https://redefinedatlanta.org/investments/innovation-fund.

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