A collaboration between the Riordan and Cotsen Foundations has opened up new grant opportunities for Cotsen schools. Melrose and Beethoven Street Elementary Schools were selected this year as recipients of the Riordan Foundation’s Instructional Innovation Grants. Last year, another Cotsen school, Mill School and Technology Academy, also received an Instructional Innovation grant from the Foundation.
Instructional Innovation Grants provide up to 50-75% of the funding of a one-year project related to improving instruction. Melrose Elementary was awarded a $60,000 grant to enhance their one-to-one iPad program and project-based learning initiative. Beethoven Elementary received a $13,000 grant to further the implementation of CGI math through coaching in partnership with the UCLA Mathematics Project.
The mission of the Riordan Foundation is to provide students, especially those in low-income communities in Los Angeles County, access to a high-quality education that prepares them to compete in the 21st century. A key element of the Riordan Foundation’s work to accomplish its mission is the funding of grants. The Instructional Innovation Grant has become a nexus point for the ART of TEACHING and the Riordan Foundation.
“Innovation is what we are all about at Melrose,” said Matthew Needleman, principal of Melrose Elementary. “We are constantly testing things and changing things. The title Instructional Innovation just sort of clicked with us,” he commented.
When Melrose became a magnet in 2008, iPads and other instructional technologies were made available to the school by the district. Yet, when the economy plummeted, and discretionary funding for schools decreased, Melrose found it difficult to keep pace with the ever-expanding hardware needed for a cutting edge technology instructional integration. For example, while the school is pursuing a school-wide blogging initiative, some of their iPads lack the power to load the blogging websites. The Riordan grant money will be used to update kindergarten and 1st grade iPads with the latest models.
The funding will be given to Melrose and Beethoven for the 2017-2018 academic year. However, both schools plan to further their projects even after the funds have run out.
“We will continue the project with professional development and math celebrations,” said Cara Fields, principal of Beethoven Street Elementary. “With the grant, we will be able to expand our work around professional development in math, coaching support for teachers, planning time for CGI math lessons, math family nights, and fun math activities at school for the students. But, our ultimate goal is to improve our students’ math cognitive and problem-solving skills.”
To be eligible for the grant at least 50% of the students at the school must qualify for free or reduced lunch. The grant is also only offered by invitation through the Grant Awareness Session during the Fall.
Beethoven Street was a member of the 2011 ART of TEACHING cohort and Melrose Elementary started a year later in 2012.