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Northampton Education Foundation program doles out nearly $27K in latest funding round

  • In this file photo, Leeds School third-grade parent and volunteer Alissa Imre Geis, works with third-graders Alex Bajracharya, left, Rosie Tauer and Rob Smith-Sullivan to help build a mosaic. The project was funded in part by a Northampton Education Foundation grant. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 2/22/2019 11:23:29 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A mobile pottery studio, more library books that address diversity and a student-created film about immigration.

Those are three of the 11 projects totaling $26,882 that have received funding from the Northampton Education Foundation’s small grants program.

The nonprofit awards teachers, parents and community members small grant funding, up to $3,000, twice a year. Twenty-one requests totaling nearly $62,000 were made in the most recent round of funding, according to Dale Melcher, chairman of the small grants committee.

“We’re looking for projects that are innovative and creative, that allow teachers and their students and sometimes teachers alone to explore new directions outside of what’s generally expected of them,” Melcher said.

Other projects include a pen pal program for JFK Middle School students to correspond with Ghanaian students, funding for a high school jazz program and an after-school science group.

Some initiatives are receiving NEF funding for the first time, such as “Reading Into Diversity,” a project that will bring in more books that talk about race and culture into the elementary school libraries and educate teachers and staff how to use them to open up conversations.

Others are a continuation of projects from previous years. In its third year, a Leeds grant allows third-graders to work with a naturalist from the Hitchcock Center for the Environment to study red-backed salamanders on the Mill River. Some of the data that students collect will be submitted to a U.S. Geological Survey for its research on amphibians.

Funding was formally accepted by the Northampton School Committee in December, and teachers have until August to use the money, Melcher said. The foundation is currently accepting small grant proposals for its spring cycle.

Greta Jochem can be reached at

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