Our Work for Educators

Lab Coats and Libraries: Classroom Grants Impact All Curriculums in Collier County

The Education Foundation of Collier County – Champions For Learning is committed to supporting our educators and providing the resources they need to experience professional success. According to the National Education Association, more than 90% of teachers spend an average of $500 of their own money on school supplies and other items their students need to succeed. The unstated expectation that educators will spend their own money on supplies and equipment are factors in teacher attrition. Champion’s For Learning’s Classroom Grants program offers funding opportunities for our educators to design and implement innovative learning experiences for their students without having to pay out of their own pockets.

The program is open to all types of educators in Collier County across all subject areas: applicants can be classroom and Related Arts teachers, school counselors, coaches, or Curriculum Coordinators. During the 2023-2024 school year, Champions For Learning funded over 450 projects through our Classroom Grants program, impacting a variety of grade levels and curriculums. From a classroom library that inspires reading comprehension to medical lab coats that offer a real experience in the healthcare profession, students at Naples High School were impacted by several awarded Classroom Grants.

Educator Gina Travis submitted three Classroom Grant requests, each focused on promoting reading and helping her to build a library in her classroom to benefit current and future students as she is new to teaching high school English at Naples High School. Gina’s AP Literature students read Frankenstein and Macbeth as part of their curriculum, and with funding she received through an awarded Classroom Grant, she purchased a copy of each for her students to physically hold, make meaningful annotations, and engage deeper with the text to facilitate stronger comprehension. To build a robust classroom library, Gina requested a grant to purchase 25 different books, including The Great Gatsby, Wuthering Heights, and The Kite Runner that her students can choose from to encourage independent reading across genres and literatures. To spur even her most reluctant readers to pick up a book, Gina’s third Classroom Grant request enabled her to purchase copies of comedian Trevor Noah’s book Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, whose diverse set of characters, whose strengths, weaknesses, and insecurities, appealed and related to her diverse group of senior students who would soon be graduating from high school.

STEM educator Gail D’Arco, who was also a 2023-2024 Teacher of Distinction, also utilized the Classroom Grants program to support her Naples High School students as they worked in “surgical teams” to develop a plan to separate two-year old, conjoined twins. These students are considering careers in health care, and Gail’s project introduces them to a variety of professions that are available to them. Students chose between five areas of specialty based on their interest: pediatric cardio-thoracic surgeon, pediatric gastroenterologist, plastic surgeon, orthopedic surgeon, and a pediatric vascular surgeon. At the end of their year-long case study, the students presented their ideas and surgical plans to NCH experts, including oncologists, a pediatric specialist, and an ER Physician at the Judith and Marvin Herb Family Simulation Center. During their presentations, students proudly wore their lab coats, which Gail purchased through her awarded Classroom Grant, with name tags identifying them as professionals in their chosen field of study. Last year, when Gail launched this project, she bought the lab coats using her own money and ultimately returned them once the presentations concluded. Now, she will be able to use the lab coats each year with subsequent classes.

Gina and Gail are just two educators across Naples High School and all of Collier County who have enriched their classrooms through funding received from Champion’s For Learning’s Classroom Grants program. With over $306,000 awarded to educators in 2023-2024, the program truly makes a difference in their professional lives. Will you join us in supporting our educators by making a gift to fund Classroom Grants for the upcoming 2024-2025 school year? Together, we can champion learning.

CLICK HERE to make a gift to Classroom Grants.