This article first appeared in the Vail Daily on August 8, 2019
The Education Foundation of Eagle County is receiving STEM funding support from Vail Health for its E•ƒ(ec)tive classroom grants program that kicks off August 15 at Eagle County Schools’ annual Educators Academy in Gypsum.
Every fall since 2012, principals and teachers throughout the district are invited to apply for funding that promotes curricula in STEM, Arts and Music, and Equity in the classroom. This grant program is an effective approach to empowering local teachers in their endeavors to educate with an innovative curriculum that ensures successful outcomes for every student, regardless of socio-economic background.
For the 2019-20 school year, STEM funding support provided by Vail Health will prioritize health science studies and in-school mental health support services. However, all STEM requests are welcome. These priorities directly align with the missions of both organizations and demonstrate the importance of community collaboration at a time when the Eagle County education funding gap continues to grow.
According to Great Education Colorado, the state spends $2,800 per student below the national average. With an enrollment of approximately 6,900 students, that’s a deficit of $19.3M in Eagle County. To illustrate the widening gap, last year the per-student spending deficit was $2,685.
Some examples of past STEM grant awards include biotechnology classroom equipment, an interactive SMART table, Science Olympiad participation for two middle schools, math paraprofessional support, CNC woodcutting machine repair and teacher training, a 3D printer, robotics materials, mechanics exploration, physics of sports program, coding and robotics competition support, MakerSpace supplies and materials, AVID tutors, and innovative STEM curricula to boost student Colorado Measures of Academic Success science scores.
“We look forward to seeing the benefits this ongoing partnership will provide local students and our community,” said Vail Health President and CEO Will Cook in a news release. “Supporting EFEC’s grant program is the most effective way Vail Health can directly bolster STEM in our schools. Additionally, we believe funds for mental health support services are critical to Eagle Valley’s behavioral health initiative. We’re proud to partner with EFEC to create meaningful change.”
In addition to ensuring students have equitable access to behavioral health services, another long-term goal of this partnership is to fuel our local job force by helping students find their way from high school to a career in health sciences.
“At Eagle Valley High School, we are dedicated to aligning student interests into successful career pathways,” said Kelly Kienzle, a science teacher, “With the biotechnology equipment provided by EFEC and Vail Health, our students can engage in a real-world application of medical lab procedures and find their way from high school to a career in health and medicine.”
EFEC encourages all Eagle County Schools principals and teachers to apply online for E•ƒ(ec)tive classroom grants starting August 15. Visit efec.org for more information.