The 2017 NEF Annual Grant Awards: a Proud Tradition Continues and Grows

The Naperville Education Foundation is pleased to announce that this year we awarded $62,741 in grants for 34 projects. Recipients of this year’s grants are giving invaluable educational experiences to Naperville 203 students and the NEF Board of Trustees recognizes them for their outstanding proposals. Together, we are providing exceptional opportunities for our children.

NEF’s Annual Grant Award program has been in existence since 1993 and has funded a total of 879 projects, some of which have become district‑wide programs. These projects represent an investment of more than $1,000,000 to enrich student-learning experiences. This year, NEF also bestowed four WOW! Prize Awards and retooled the grant categories to better mirror classroom priorities: Cultural Studies, General, Health & Physical Development, Literacy and new categories of Social Emotional Learning and STEM. Grant applications are due after the start of the new year and are reviewed within each category by a committee comprised of NEF Trustees, district staff and community volunteers. The committee makes all funding decisions.

Please join us in celebrating all of our grant recipients who are listed after each proposal name along with all of the schools that will be touched by each grant!

WOW! Prizes are the first funded grant proposals to be announced and receive this special treatment because the proposal writer and application really “knocked the socks off” of the respective evaluation committee!

Dual Language Community Fair
Melissa Soline
Beebe, Elmwood, Mill Street, River Woods, Steeple Run Elementary Schools Jefferson Junior High School Naperville Central and Naperville North High Schools
The District 203 Dual Language Community Fair will bring together the D203 Dual Language community to celebrate the bilingualism of Dual Language students and the many cultures represented in our community, as well as strengthen and foster connections within our Dual Language community to enhance the children’s language acquisition and cultural exposure. The fair, to be held in 2018, will also provide an opportunity to promote greater understanding of the Dual Language program for the community at large.

Get Off Your Buns and Run: Have Some Summer Fun!
David Cleveland and Kathy Mueller
All District 203 Elementary Schools
Weekly, free run training is offered to all K-5 students in Naperville 203 every Saturday during the summer over a ten-week period. The goal of the program is to encourage a life-long, healthy lifestyle through running. Students will learn proper running techniques and training while having fun!

Student Organization That Helps Elderly Integrate Technology Into Their Lives
Lauren Pollack and John Pollack
Naperville Central and Naperville North High Schools
Kids Care to Help (KC2H) is a student-led volunteer program that pairs students with retirement center residents who wish to learn how to use their smartphones, tablets, and computers to make their lives more satisfying. The organization currently has 24 volunteers that visit two retirement centers, numbers that are now expected to increase now that KC2H has been approved as a Naperville Central school club. Since its inception in June 2016, KC2H volunteers have had approximately 160 one-on-one interactions with the residents over a period of 48 hours!

Taking Inventory
Michael Klick and Alma Tan Torres
Kennedy Junior High School Connections
This STEM/technology-based project is designed to teach Naperville 203 multi-needs special education students real-world work skills that will allow them to be more employable in the highly technical workplace of today. With non-technical job positions on the decline in America, ALL of our District 203 students should be trained to hold more technical jobs. This project is intended to place new technologies into the hands of our special needs students so that they, too, may join the ranks of America’s more technological workforce

Our evaluation committees and Board of Trustees can’t wait to see our 2017 grants in action!


Bridging The Gap
Jacquelyn Fabian
Jefferson Junior High School Naperville North High School
Bridging the Gap is a mentoring program for minority students geared toward promoting a successful transition between junior high and high school. The goal is to run this as an independent mentoring program with teacherrecommended mentors
Madison’s Expedition
Joe Nikkel, Adam Schmitt
Madison Junior High School
Madison’s Expedition is a grant proposal for Google Expedition kit of 30 student devices. This is a teacher guided virtual field trip in one easy to use kit and it’s a new way to show students different environments, cultures, and locations without ever leaving the classroom!
Expanding the Success of SUCCESS
Kim Henderson, Keri King, Lisa Xagas, Kristin Fitzgerald
Beebe, Elmwood, Mill Street, Scott Elementary Schools Jefferson Junior High School
Research clearly shows that parent involvement and support of education is one of the greatest indicators of student success. With this in mind, African-American parents at Naperville North founded the SUCCESS group to lend parent leadership to the multifaceted efforts to close the achievement gap between AfricanAmerican students and Caucasian students. Expanded SUCCESS efforts at Beebe, Mill Street and Jefferson Junior High during the 2016-17 school year have effectively strengthened parent relationships with one another and school administrators as well as provided information about how to support academic growth at home. For the 2017-18 school year, SUCCESS groups hope to continue with these aims, expanding to Elmwood and Scott Schools, as well as building a bridge to the greater school community, developing and strengthening relationships with other families at the school, equipping parent leaders from this group in the greater school context, and building the relationships of these families with all teachers and staff in the school
Picture This
Tisha Allison
Ellsworth Elementary School
Differences make us stronger, differences make us unique, and differences make the world go round. A traveling library of picture books will provide a spark for families to have conversations about everyone’s different backgrounds, and through this foster acceptance of diversity.


#WeAreEngaged: Brain Breaks with a Purpose
Julie McCarty
Ellsworth Elementary School
#WeAreEngaged: Brain Breaks with a Purpose increases student engagement, accelerates academic growth and improves executive functional skills by providing academically focused, kinesthetically oriented brain breaks during the school day. Additional benefits of these breaks include increase stamina, confidence and improved selfdirected skills.
Learning Commons Lego Wall
Donna Stevens
Beebe Elementary School
This grant will allow for creating a Lego Wall within the Learning Commons! This will impact all Kindergarten – 5th grade learners and this project will build on the Maker Space that is being implemented with the Learning Commons related to STEM.
Grow Green to Eat Green
Kyle Mitchell
Steeple Run Elementary School
Purchasing a Tower Garden growing system that stands about five feet tall and holds up to twenty plants using a state-of-the-art vertical aeroponic growing system is an innovative way to link health and science at the elementary level. This will prove to students that fruits and vegetables don’t just come from aisle 9 at the grocery store!
Support for Advanced Placement Students
Sean Williams
Naperville North High School
This project is aimed at providing resources for students who are participating in an AP course for the first time. Students enrolled in this “cohort” will attend bi-weekly, after-school sessions to supplement information learned in an AP course, and teach students academic and socialemotional skills necessary for success in an AP course. In addition, one AP exam fee will be paid for as incentive for each student enrolling in the cohort.


Food is Fuel: Snacks for the NCHS Health Office
Erica Kelly
Naperville Central High School
Research indicates that academic performance is negatively impacted by hunger and absenteeism, and the school health office would like to continue its ability to provide snacks to students during the school day. Some students do not have access to breakfast foods at home, and often enter the building hungry, while many others are provided with juice and/or crackers when not feeling well in an effort to support our overarching goal of keeping students in school and ready to learn.
Perceptual Motor Trainer: Follow the Writing Path, Wherever It May Go!
Barbara Csutak
Ann Reid Early Childhood Center
As the demands of Kindergarten writing grow, we want to motivate our young writers and reinforce their motor learning for prewriting skills. The Perceptual Motor Trainer is a writing trainer tool to help the motor, sensory, perceptual, and cognitive foundations needed for writing. Children will be motivated to begin writing as they trace a path with their pencil and are rewarded with visual and auditory cues
Naperville Central Leadership Conference
Mike Stine
Naperville Central High School
This is the 4th year of the Leadership Conference. The Conference is to provide Leadership techniques and strategies and Character development for coaches and students. There are expert lecturers and small group discussions and exercises. The event also includes team building activities
Teen Parent Connection – Peer Prevention Program
Becky Beilfuss
Lincoln Junior High School Naperville Central, Naperville North High Schools
Teen Parent Connection delivers a two-part prevention message to area middle and high schools. A Health Educator discusses the risks of early sexual activity, including pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections, and a Peer Educator (teen parent) addresses the personal impact of teen parenthood.


Beebe Bobcat Books en Español
Maura Hoff
Funded through the generosity of Pam and Darrell Carpenter. Darrell is a member of the NEF Board of Trustees. Beebe Elementary School
The Beebe Bobcat Book program is a highly successful initiative to put new books leveled according to Fountas/ Pinell in students’ hands for daily reading. Because the Bobcat Book program lacks a similar reader-leveling system for Spanish-language books, Beebe will create a depository of books for this purpose. Additionally, a monthly family Spanish reading night will encourage students and their families to interact with members of the school community who read in Spanish, as well as to highlight the achievements of older students in the Dual Language program by inviting them to read to those attending the events.
Little Free Library: Sharing a Love of Books with Students and the Community
Paula Helberg
Steeple Run Elementary School
The students and staff at Steeple Run want to share their love of reading with each other and with the surrounding community. A Little Free Library will encourage readers to take books, read them, share them, and get to know one another better.
Q.U.E.S.T. Research
John Hayward
Kennedy, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison, Washington Junior High Schools Naperville Central, Naperville North High Schools
The Q.U.E.S.T Research curriculum and companion manual will meet a need that has been identified. District 203 students do not have a consistent research curriculum guiding their progress through the assignments they are asked to complete. So, as district Learning Commons directors, we wrote one. The teacher’s guide explains in detail each skill in the curricular map while unifying the vocabulary across grade levels and the project is to measure its success through grades 6-12 implementation.
Bridging Language and Literacy
Kathy Dejmek
Steeple Run Elementary School
Bridging Language and Literacy will provide parents with education and resources to promote language and literacy during fall and spring trimesters. Families of students that receive language services and reading support will be invited with their student, to participate in hands-on language and literacy learning. Sessions will provide education regarding grade-level expectations, strategies to promote language and literacy development, and opportunities to practice.
Paws for Tales Animal Assisted Reading Program
Kristen Funk
Beebe, Elmwood, Kingsley, Meadow Glens, Naper, Scott Elementary Schools Madison Junior High School
Paws for Tales animal assisted reading program provides schools with certified volunteer-dog team visits, which help children of all ages to feel more comfortable by reading aloud to a dog in a non-judgmental, supportive environment.
Simply Reading: Access, Ownership, and Choice
Stephanie K. Moore
Naperville North High School
“Simply Reading: Access, Ownership, and Choice” is a project that will be piloted in the Academic Reading classrooms at Naperville North High School. Through the generous gift made possible by community supported Naperville Education Foundation, students will – perhaps for the first time in their high school careers – enjoy a Book Club within their classroom.
*This is the second year that the Alan D. Krashesky Literacy Prize has been awarded by NEF. This prize has been named in honor of NEF friend and parent of district graduates, Alan D. Krashesky, for his continued support and commitment to NEF. This prize reflects Alan’s interest and passion for journalism, education and literacy. You can catch Alan weeknights on ABC7-Chicago where he keeps us informed on the news of the day from the anchor desk
Strengthening the Rich Tapestry of the Scott School Community Through the Gift of Summer Literacy
Julie Knott, Jill Ryan, Sue Tarson, Naseem Ghouse, and Laura Riddle
Scott Elementary School
Summer reading picnics in the past were focused on reading. The summer picnics that we are writing this grant to support will be focused primarily on strengthening relationships with culturally diverse families, and renew connections with students to promote continued literacy growth throughout the summer months. Our goal is to use Murphy’s Law of School Improvement to reduce the achievement gap, by reaching out in partnership with our families in their neighborhoods with activities that involve literacy, lunch, and learning tools. The connections that we form over the summer through these three picnics will pave the path for trusting relationships between staff members and families, while promoting school readiness for the new academic year.


Female Self Defense R.A.D. (Rape Aggression Defense) & Male Self Defense R.A.D. (Resisting Aggression with Defense)
Crystal Lafferty
Naperville Central, Naperville North High Schools
The purpose of this grant is to create a much needed classroom opportunity for female and male empowerment and enhancement of social emotional health. The female class addresses gender specific topics such as healthy and unhealthy relationships, the influence of the media on culture, sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, bullying, internet safety, and how to avoid violence and unsafe situations. The male class addresses gender specific topics such as strategies of defense, healthy and unhealthy romantic relationships, understanding types of relationship abuse, sex in the media, sexual harassment, sexual consent, and becoming an ally. Both classes are available to female and male students, grades 11-12, and are designed to teach students the basic physical defense of the R.A.D. program through the use of proper equipment, which will in turn help fulfill the Erin’s Law education requirements. We will have introduction to both curriculums during students’ grade 9 and 10 physical education classes. The class will be explicitly linked to the district’s SEL standards.
Fidgets for Focus
Marissa Freese
Naperville Central High School
Instead of fighting the fidgeting needs of some students, “Fidgets for Focus” will provide a discreet way for students to embrace movement during classroom instruction. Fidgets have been shown to help students with ADD, ADHD, and anxiety in maintaining focus by providing an outlet for emotions and energy without creating a distraction for other students or adults in the room.
Flexible Seating
Kate Shaw
Highlands Elementary School
This project seeks to increase student motivation and engagement by creating a collaborative learning environment that supports all of the social and emotional needs of each student who works in Mrs. Shaw’s fourth grade classroom. The goal is to create a student-centered learning space where students can choose where they are comfortable learning, communicating, and collaborating best.
I Support Community Inside Out Club
Marion Ruthig
Elmwood, Kingsley, Maplebrook, Meadow Glens, Mill Street, Prairie, Steeple Run Elementary Schools
The Inside Out Club develops children with character inside and out. Children learn and put into practice key character traits through learning and volunteer activities rooted in their community. This Club bridges social emotional learning (SEL) and community engagement.


Bringing the Earth and Stars to Madison – Part 2
Adam Schmitt
Madison Junior High School
Bring the Earth and Stars to Madison will expose students to a realistic, hands-on observation of the untouched night sky, in addition to some of Earth’s most fascinating features that students otherwise would not be able to experience. This was funded through NEF last year and the projector that will be purchased through this grant will optimize the use of this program!
Building Future Engineers!
Pamela Kelly
Naper Elementary School
Play is an important part of the kindergarten curriculum at Naper School and needs to be purposeful, promoting critical thinking skills and social skills. The requested materials will encourage higher-level thinking through construction as students have the opportunity to create without boundaries and specific directions. As fearless 5and 6-year olds “play” and build, they will plant the seeds for future thinking and risk-taking.
Getting Innovative with Real Life Sciences
Jessica Spethmann
Mill Street Elementary School
The Getting Innovative with Real Life Sciences grant hopes to build positive attitudes in STEM for girls in 4th & 5th grade. Girls will have many opportunities to explore with STEM tools and design their own projects and experiments. These experiences will grow their confidence and self image in STEM subjects and careers.
Helping Freshmen Chemistry Students See the Unseeable
Linda Bennett
Naperville Central High School
Students struggle with abstract concepts in the macroscopic world. Integrating meaningful, dynamic and fun manipulatives like the Happy Atoms kits makes abstract concepts come to life
Mathematically Misunderstood
Jennifer Sardone
Kingsley Elementary School
Kingsley is currently implementing “Mathematically Misunderstood” which increases exposure to mathematical practice standards, problem-solving/critical thinking, and fact fluency for girls in 3rd grade, due to an identified achievement gap. Knowing that prevention trumps remediation, we would like to expand this model to students in grades K-2. In order to make this happen and to achieve our goal in closing this gender achievement gap, Kingsley School requests funds to purchase materials to support this instruction.
Robot Arm
Keshav Kapoor
Naperville Central High School
Equipment purchased with this grant will be used to build a robotic arm. The robot arm will be used for various extracurricular groups (science Olympiad, robotics, GEMS, etc.) as well as other various STEM activities.
STEM PROJECT KITS for Prairie School
Mimi Sprague
Prairie Elementary School
STEM PROJECT KITS are designed for groups of students to work independently on a project, of their interest, in order to learn about a scientific concept. The kits contain a hands-on activity, experiments, activities and books at different reading levels with information on the activity topic. Topics include electricity, simple machines, robotics, and physics.
*The Donald G. Schroeter Prize is a new award this year and has been generously funded through the Donald G. Schroeter Memorial Restricted Fund established by Paul and Beth Schroeter. The Donald G. Schroeter Prize funds NEF Annual Grant Application proposals selected by the family that best represent Donald’s passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Donald and Phyllis Schroeter were original supporters of NEF
NEF gratefully acknowledges the anonymous family who contributed funding support for a portion of the grants awarded to Naperville Central High School this year.

How to apply for a 2018 NEF Annual Grant Award

Please visit this fall to learn more about submitting an application. The deadline will be early, 2018.
We accept grant proposals from:

•Naperville 203 Students
•Naperville 203 Teachers and Staff
•Community Members
•Community Organizations

The Naperville Education Foundation’s (NEF) mission is to “encourage creativity, innovation and excellence in our students.” Since its founding in 1992, NEF has served as the philanthropic arm of Naperville 203. By supplementing our school community with private donations, we enhance education and programs for all students. With generous community support, NEF is able to provide financial resources that provide exceptional opportunities for our students. We are inspired by the potential inherent in all children to thrive and be enriched by their experiences in school.