Media release

Grants spark learning across RI

“Once again, the Carter family is encouraging change through leadership. Thanks to their vision, teachers all over Rhode Island now have the resources to bring learning to life in new ways.”

Elementary school teachers across the state will share more than $170,000 in grants to encourage innovation in their classrooms through the Carter Spark Grants program at the Rhode Island Foundation.

Launched by philanthropists Letitia and the late John Carter in 2013, the program offered full-time third- and fourth-grade teachers grants of up to $1,000 for proposals that engage students through unique experiences and creative learning methods in order to stimulate their interest in academics.

“Once again, the Carter family is encouraging change through leadership. Thanks to their vision, teachers all over Rhode Island now have the resources to bring learning to life in new ways,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Foundation.

Eligible expenses included field trips, equipment and other activities that otherwise would not be available in the classroom. Spark Grants are for one-time expenses and cannot provide ongoing funding to sustain projects.

Teachers at the William D'Abate School in Providence, Agnes B. Hennessey School in East Providence and Stony Lane School in North Kingstown are among more than 180 educators statewide who received grants.

At D'Abate, fourth-grade teacher Grace Payan will use her grant to support the Fish in the Classroom (FIC) program. Students will work with the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council to raise trout in their classroom while learning the health history and ecological importance of the river in their neighborhood.

“The main goals are to foster a connection to the natural world and community, and to increase environmental literacy. Students achieve these goals by raising trout in their classrooms while learning about the health, history, and ecological importance of the river in their neighborhood,” she said.

At Hennessey, third-grade teachers Ashley Iadevaia and Emily Rendine received grants to promote Next Generation Science Standards by creating an activism project to study water conservation and water pollution. Approximately 60 students are expected to participate.

“This project will provide opportunities for math and science learning that is far more engaging than answering questions in a textbook. This will support teaching and learning in a way our traditional curriculum cannot,” said Iadevaia.

At Stony Lane, fourth-grade teachers Kerri Fairbanks, Elizabeth Neronha and Jo-Ann Walsh will use their grants for field trips to the University of Rhode Island’s W. Alton Jones campus in order to participate in its Winter Ecology program and Underground Railroad simulation activity. Approximately 60 students are expected to take part.

“Students will be able to engage in nature and navigation activities that tie into our social studies, science and physical education curriculum,” said Neronha.

Schools in Barrington, Bristol-Warren School District, Burrillville, Central Falls, Coventry, Cranston, Cumberland, East Greenwich, Lincoln, North Providence, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, Smithfield, South Kingstown, West Warwick, Westerly and Woonsocket also received grants.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.