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Pictured in back, from left are Advisory Board Chair Tim Nelson, third-grade teacher Chris Grote, third-grade teacher Brea Schminski, Career and Technical Education Teacher Luke Becker, Advisory Board Member Aitor Leniz and Advisory Board Member and Grants Committee Chair Peter Hesselroth. In front, from left are third-grade teacher Karen Leniz, mathematics teacher Beth Stone, art teacher Per Gulbranson, English teacher Jen Lundin and Superintendent Ken Gagner. Photo submitted

After an outpouring of support over the last two years from local businesses, individuals, and alumni, the Braham Area Education Foundation recently distributed $5,150 in its first round of classroom grants for the 2019-2020 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. Those grants included funding supporting the purchase of a computer numerical control (CNC) plasma cutter, to assist students in developing technical skills likely to expand career opportunities; graphing calculators for students in grades eight through 12, which will enable students to participate more effectively in higher-level math activities; a document camera for the Art Department, to enable more effective instruction on techniques in student art creation; materials to enable English and reading students to develop communications and media skills through the creation of podcasts; and funding expanding the availability of Chromebooks for third-graders, to enhance their ability to perform research and other technology-related tasks in the course of their school work.

These grants followed the Foundation’s first sets of grants announced in November of 2018 and March of 2019, and the Foundation looks forward to seeking applications for another round of grants in early 2020.

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 business 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, please visit www.ifound.org/give-BAEF. 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 founding advisory board include Chair Tim Nelson, Vice Chair Terry Turnquist, Secretary Stephanie White, Treasurer Kelby Jennisen, Carrie Davis, Tracy Fix, Peter Hesselroth, Tammi Johnson, Edie Kaunonen, Aitor Leniz, Marie Meyer, Sue Riesing, and Heather Sward, with Superintendent Ken Gagner serving as a non-voting member of the advisory board.

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