Mini Grants Make Opportunities for GI Students a Reality

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Tight school budgets mean there isn't always money for things like extra instruments.

But thanks to the Grand Island Education Foundation's Classroom Mini-Grants, students at Starr Elementary will keep the beat.

"We didn't have instruments for everyone and they were in bad repair," says K-2 Music Teacher Emily Roemmich. "So we filled out the grant hoping to get maybe a few of the instruments."

Roemmich says they did get the grant, and Starr's principal went a step further and matched that money, so students are now getting the chance to play on several new percussion instruments.

Though they already used their money, Roemmich was one of dozens of Grand Island teachers surprised with mini-grant check presentations on Tuesday.

GI Education Foundation Director Traci Skalberg says the grants are funded in part by their "Back to School" Community Campaign.

"The other source is the Grand Island Public Schools staff who support us at a tremendous level," says Skalberg. "We do campaigns with them every spring and then roll that money into the fall for classroom grants and other things."

In nine years of mini-grant giving the foundation has awarded over $113,000, and Skalberg says they're not running out of people who want to give.

"It just never gets old, to give to kids," she says. "What is more gratifying than investing in a kid and investing in a student? Engaging them in the classroom and engaging them in life? It can't get better than that."

And teachers like Roemmich say those gifts mean just as much to the students.

"I remember the first day that we even got the drums out, the kids were overwhelmed with excitement," says Roemmich. "It's just something that we can do with this money to get something we wouldn't be able to have otherwise."

This year the foundation gave over $13,000 and says 2,600 kids will benefit.