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2023-2024 Express Grant Winners

Congratulations to our 2023-2024 Express Grant Recipients!

February 2024 Recipients

Your Voice and INDIVIDUALITY Matters

Emily Schmitt  - Meadow Glens Elementary School

This grant funds materials for students to customize their Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) device cases and straps.

When students do not have functional verbal communication, they utilize AAC devices, their “talkers,” to communicate. Currently, devices have black cases and a black strap. The grant will fund cases, straps and vinyl stickers so that students can personalize their devices to express their preferences, identity and culture. 

8 students impacted

Mirrors and Windows Art Library

Kathryn Nichols  - Scott Elementary School

This grant funds 22 picture books that will provide students with creative inspiration as they learn about diverse characters and historical visual arts figures.

These books will benefit students by creating a classroom culture that is trauma-informed and values equity. The books will be used for read-alouds and art projects.

450 students impacted

December 2023 Recipients

Threaded Harmony: A Sensory Tapestry

Daniela Cirone - Naperville Central High School

This grant funds materials for “Fiber Fusion” inclusive weaving lessons that cater to individuals with special needs.

The project allows students with special needs to experiment with unconventional materials and techniques to create a woven art piece that fosters a sense of community and interconnectedness through art. Weaving combines therapeutic benefits of the arts with fine and gross motor skill enhancement, while providing a tactile experience that allows for creativity and self-expression.

14 students impacted

PAWSitivity through Pet Therapy

Kimberly Lukawski, Andrea Szczepanski and Kevin Harper - Lincoln Junior High School

The grant funds the pet therapy fee for Hunter, a 3 year old golden retriever who holds the Canine Good Citizenship certification which allows him to serve as a therapy dog in schools, to attend Lincoln two days a week.

Therapy dogs can increase students’ feeling of belonging, reduce negative behaviors, improve mental well-being, develop trust and a greater capacity for empathy, improve reading skills, enhance executive functioning skills, and stimulate memory and problem solving skills.

799 students impacted

The Naperville North Star’s NOW Production

Elizabeth Skopec- Naperville North High School

The grant will fund the a microphone pack for use in interviewing and filming to tell student's stories in the news show The North On Wednesdays (the NOW).

The pack will modernize the student newspaper and news show’s filming and editing techniques. Access to high-quality recording devices will allow students to craft products that reflect their abilities, as they aim to create high-quality, creative, forward-thinking products to feature North’s student body and understand issues facing the school and its students.

20 students impacted 

Naperville North Environmental Science Club Aquaponic System

Students with help from Kristen Richardson - Naperville North High School

This grant funds materials for students to build an aquaponic system.

Aquaponics is a resource-efficient, environmentally friendly method of growing high quality produce that combines aquaculture (the practice of raising fish) and hydroponic (a soil-less way to grow plants.) Club members will work collaboratively to create a construction plan and create a self-sustaining and renewable energy system with a lasting impact on the school.

25 students impacted

November 2023 Recipients

NAMI Presentations

Renee Billish, Amie Salter and Deanna Nesci - Naperville North High School

This grant provides support for mental health workshops by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for PE Fitness and Advanced Health classes at Naperville North. Mental Health challenges have become increasingly prevalent among teenagers, so the workshops aim to provide students with the necessary resources and guidance to effectively support their mental well-being.

450 students impacted

Ellsworth Craft Club - Calming Crochet Corner

Students with help from Kimberley Rutan and David Liszka  - Ellsworth Elementary School

This student-led grant funds crochet materials (Wooble Kits) for the Ellsworth Craft Club. Once 5th graders have the materials and learn to crochet, they plan to host other grade levels for a Calming Crochet Corner as a space for calm, to connect with others and for 5th graders to be leaders for the rest of the school. 

40 students impacted

Empower, Regulate, Achieve: Promoting Whole-Child Wellness with the X5 Stationary Bike

Caitlin Leo and Christa Valkanos - Steeple Run Elementary School

This grant funds the purchase of an X5 Kids Stationary Bike for Steeple Run’s newly constructed wing called the Super Star Atrium. The aim of the bike is to provide students sensory, cognitive, emotional and behavioral support to help students self-regulate during school transition periods or brain breaks.  

636 students impacted

JJHS Book Club

Ashley Krause - Jefferson Junior High School

This grant funds the purchase of multiple diverse books for students to gather for bi-weekly book club meetings. The club will allow students to explore genres and provide a safe environment for them to test their comprehension skills, all while showing students how reading can be a way for them to build meaningful connections with each other.

15 students impacted

October 2023 Recipients

I see ME! Inclusive Learning through Play - Multicultural Community Helpers

Reyna Nungaray, Elmwood Elementary School

This grant funds materials to allow students the opportunity to be exposed to play-based materials that represent the wide variety of cultures present in Naperville’s community helpers and people in authority to foster a sense of community, respect, and inclusion. The materials consist of 2 sets of Community Block Play People, Community Puppets, Community Workers Book sets, Community Workers Poster Packs, and Careers Puzzle Sets to rotate amongst kindergarten classrooms throughout their instructional period relating to social sciences and civics education.

115 students impacted

Lincoln E-Sports

Josh Stumpenhorst - Lincoln Junior High School 

This grant will increase Lincoln’s capacity to provide the E-Sports experience to more students at Lincoln by funding more devices for the number of students interested in gaming through the Lincoln Tech and Gamers Guild club. Funds will go toward purchasing two Nintendo Switch consoles and eight controllers. Providing gaming opportunities to more students will benefit students by promoting teamwork, strategic thinking, improved hand-eye coordination, and a positive and inclusive social environment. 

700 students impacted

Bolstering Equity and a Sense of Belonging for NNHS’ 171 EL Students

Jeffery Farson - Naperville North High School

This grant funds the purchase of four hand-held two-way translation devices to eradicate barriers in communicating naturally with English Learner students and their families. Having these devices at key areas in the building will allow students and staff members to quickly and naturally engage in unplanned communication. Having these devices available will empower EL students, their families, and staff members to foster a greater sense of belonging in the NNHS community and set a foundation for success in academic, personal, and social-emotional goals. 

171 students impacted

NNHS Community Center Environment and SEL Manipulatives

Jen Smith - Naperville North High School

This grant funds SEL manipulatives, games, sensory objects, and environment improvements for the Naperville North High School Community Center. 

The addition of new materials will allow for an expansion of SEL instructional tools and strategies, increasing the center’s ability to meet the various needs of students. This will ensure that every student feels a meaningful, strong connection to Naperville North High School.

150 students impacted