Braham foundation gives over $5,000 to teachers

Recipients of classroom grant monies from the Braham Area Education Foundation pose with members of the foundation’s Advisory Board recently after $5,150 was given to area instructors, including (front row from left) third grade teacher Karen Leniz, mathematics teacher Beth Stone, art teacher Per Gulbranson, English teacher Jen Lundin, Superintendent Ken Gagner, (back row) Advisory Board Chair Tim Nelson, third grade teacher Chris Grote, third grade teacher Brea Schminski, Career and Technical Education teacher Luke Becker, Advisory Board member Aitor Leniz, Advisory Board member and Grants Committee Chair Peter Hesselroth.

After an outpouring of support over the last two years from local businesses, individuals and alumni, the Braham Area Education Foundation recently distributed $5,150 in its first round of classroom grants for the 2019-20 school year. 

The Foundation sought applications from faculty and staff within the Braham Area School District for projects that expand learning opportunities for Braham’s students in ways that extend beyond the reach of the ordinary school budget. Those grants included funding supporting the purchase of a computer numerical control (CNC) plasma cutter, to assist students in developing technical skills likely to expand career opportunities; graphing calculators for students in grades 8-12 which will enable students to participate more effectively in higher-level math activities; a document camera for the Art Department to enable more effective instruction on techniques in student art creation; materials to enable English and reading students to develop communications and media skills through the creation of podcasts; and funding expanding the availability of Chromebooks for third-graders to enhance their ability to perform research and other technology-related tasks in the course of their school work. 

These grants followed the Foundation’s first sets of grants announced in November of 2018 and March of 2019, and the Foundation looks forward to seeking applications for another round of grants in early 2020.

The Braham Area Education Foundation announced its official launch in September of 2017, with a mission of providing Independent School District #314 with enhanced educational opportunities and resources, supporting academic excellence and encouraging student achievement. The Foundation is a partner fund of the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls, which provides the Foundation with additional professional support in identifying educational needs, building relationships with donors and managing the Foundation’s investments in Braham’s future. 

The Foundation’s priorities were developed after the board gathered input from more than 120 members and friends of the Braham community, and its current focus is on building an endowment fund that will provide a consistent and sustainable source of support for Braham’s students long into the future. The development of that fund is off to a terrific start, thanks in part to a successful Spring Gala in April of 2018, with more than 300 people in attendance to hear a keynote speech from former Minnesota Lieutenant Governor and Braham graduate Marlene Johnson, and a second sold-out Spring Gala featuring Braham graduate and entertainer Tim Gabrielson in April of 2019. 

Thanks to several hundred contributions from individuals and businesses in the Braham area and beyond, the foundation succeeded in raising more than $100,000 in its first year of operations.

Those wishing to add their support to the Foundation quickly and securely online may visit give-BAEF. 

Contributors may also contact members of the advisory board for assistance with making a contribution to the foundation by mail or in a will. Members of the founding advisory board include Chair Tim Nelson, Vice Chair Terry Turnquist, Secretary Stephanie White, Treasurer Kelby Jennisen, Carrie Davis, Tracy Fix, Peter Hesselroth, Tammi Johnson, Edie Kaunonen, Aitor Leniz, Marie Meyer, Sue Riesing, and Heather Sward, with Superintendent Ken Gagner serving as a non-voting member of the advisory board.

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