Pictured in back, from left: Advisory Board Chair Tim Nelson, Fifth-Grade Teacher Ray Abraham, Advisory Board Member and Fifth-Grade Teacher Aitor Leniz, Superintendent and Ex Officio Advisory Board Member Ken Gagner, Advisory Board Member and Grants Committee Chair Peter Hesselroth and Principal and Activities Director Shawn Kuhnke. In front, from left: Fifth-Grade Teacher Shandell Harvey, Music Teacher Madison LaTourelle, Fourth-Grade Teacher Katie Blomdahl and Kindergarten Teacher Lauren Kiesz. Photo submitted

After an outpouring of support over the last three years from local businesses, individuals, and alumni, the Braham Area Education Foundation recently distributed $3,449 in its first round of classroom grants for the 2020-21 school year.

The Foundation sought applications from faculty and staff within the Braham Area School District, for projects that expand learning opportunities for Braham’s students in ways that extend beyond the reach of the ordinary school budget. This fall’s grants included funding for additional evidence-based tools for supporting language development for children in preschool through third grade; funding for an expanded and updated selection of non-fiction books for fifth and sixth graders; funding adding to the selection of musical instruments available for children in kindergarten through third grade; funding to support the expansion and renovation of the high school weight room; funding for document cameras to enhance the kindergarten learning environment; and funding for a multi-culturally responsive classroom library for fourth graders (in a project developed in consultation with local independent bookstore Scout & Morgan). These grants followed the Foundation’s two sets of grants announced during each of the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years, and the Foundation looks forward to seeking applications for another round of grants in early 2021.

The Braham Area Education Foundation announced its official launch in September of 2017, with a mission of providing Independent School District No. 314 with enhanced educational opportunities and resources, supporting academic excellence, and encouraging student achievement. The Foundation is a partner fund of the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls, which provides the Foundation with additional professional support in identifying educational needs, building relationships with donors, and managing the Foundation’s investments in Braham’s future.

The Foundation’s priorities were developed after the board gathered input from more than 120 members and friends of the Braham community, and its current focus is on building an endowment fund that will provide a consistent and sustainable source of support for Braham’s students long into the future. The development of that fund is off to a terrific start, thanks in part to a successful Spring Gala in April of 2018, with more than 300 people in attendance to hear a keynote speech from former Minnesota Lieutenant Governor and Braham graduate Marlene Johnson, and a second sold-out Spring Gala featuring Braham graduate and entertainer Tim Gabrielson in April of 2019. Thanks to several hundred contributions from individuals and businesses in the Braham area and beyond, the foundation succeeded in raising more than $100,000 in its first year of operations.

To add your support to the Foundation quickly and securely online, visit You can also contact members of the advisory board if you would like assistance with making a contribution to the foundation by mail or in your will. The members of the advisory board include Chair Tim Nelson, Vice Chair Terry Turnquist, Secretary Connie Gelle, Treasurer Kelby Jennisen, Carrie Davis, Tracy Fix, Peter Hesselroth, Tammi Johnson, Edie Kaunonen, Dan Klemz, Aitor Leniz, Marie Meyer, Sue Riesing, Heather Sward, and Steph White, with Superintendent Ken Gagner serving as a non-voting member of the advisory board.

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