WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and Executive Vice President Evelyn DeJesus issued the following statements announcing the fourth round of the AFT Innovation Fund’s Return, Recover and Reimagine grants totaling $278,000 in support for educators, students and communities. This round of grants brings the total number of AFT affiliates supported to 43, with an investment of more than $1.2 million since the beginning of the pandemic. RRR grant-funded projects have included academic courses that increase literacy and prepare students for the future, school infrastructure projects that provide training to educators and support staff, trauma support to help with social, emotional and identity development, and more.
“For more than two years, the lives of students, educators and families have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, as we move forward with our lives, our kids have so many social, emotional and academic needs, and our public schools can help address them. Our public schools can be safe havens and places of recovery, but they can also be incubators of ideas for powerful instruction and community engagement. Every student deserves the opportunity to learn in an environment that meets them where they are, and their educators need even more time, tools and resources to accomplish that monumentally important task. That’s why, through the AFT Innovation Fund’s latest grants, we are helping our kids succeed by funding projects like creating reading and wellness programs and providing career and technical education resources and career-readiness courses, so that our next generation can excel inside and outside the classroom.”
“The educational community has persevered through two years of pandemic uncertainty despite incredible odds. As we begin to come out the other side, the need to support our kids, our educators and our schools still exists. The AFT will always rise to that challenge and invest in the important programs, initiatives, classroom materials and trainings that help our educators do their jobs and meet the needs of students and communities. We’re so proud that the AFT Innovation Fund’s small grants program can provide quick support and relief for our affiliates.”
Below is the list of the fourth-round grantees:
Champaign Federation of Teachers (Illinois) will support social, emotional and identity development for fifth-grade students in Champaign Unit #4 schools through culturally responsive learning materials and a “Superhero” toolkit.
Edinburg AFT (Texas) will purchase the necessary career and technical education course materials for economically disadvantaged students so they can participate in the CTE program in their district.
Education Minnesota - Willmar (Minnesota) will help increase the literacy and language skills of multilingual learners in high school who faced significant learning interruption during the pandemic.
Federal Indian Services Employees (New Mexico) will develop and strengthen member wellness, engagement and recovery to better serve students, students’ families and the community.
Grand Valley Education Association (Ohio) will support and expand its “Mustang Stable” Community Learning Center by providing basic needs for students and families, developing social and emotional programming for students, and creating member-driven professional development for educators.
Lompoc Federation of Teachers (California) will upgrade its College and Career Center at Lompoc High School to help students apply for scholarships, enroll in CTE courses, apply for jobs and to get them reinvigorated about their futures.
Merged Missoula Classified Employees Organization (Montana) will develop a training and support system to help increase retention and job satisfaction for Missoula County Public Schools’ paraeducators and substitute teachers.
Natchitoches Federation of Teachers and School Employees (Louisiana) will partner with parents to increase student literacy through its “A Family That Reads Together…” project.