Bessie Minor Swift Foundation awards grants in Carson City, Churchill County

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The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation, formed by the owners and founder of Swift Communications, awards grants to programs that promote literacy, reading and writing skills as well as programs that focus on languages, sciences and interdisciplinary areas. Since 2008, more than $530,000 has been awarded to deserving organizations in the communities where Swift Communications conducts business.

This year more than 160 applications were received. The Foundation grant criteria calls for detail about the number of people who will be impacted by the organization’s project and how significant a role the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation will play in the program. Further, applicants must provide a complete description of the project including objectives and strategies to meet those objectives, explain how the project will be evaluated and submit a budget. Recipients will report on their results and insights from their program once the projects are completed.

This year, applications were of exceptional quality and $80,986 has been awarded to 36 deserving organizations. The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation thanks the many groups that took the time and energy to apply and encourages those that were not selected to submit applications in the future. Applications will be accepted again starting Jan. 1, 2019, with a deadline of Feb. 15, 2019. For more information, visit the Bessie Minor website at

Swift Communications is the owner of the Nevada Appeal, The Record-Courier, the Lahontan Valley News, the Tahoe Daily Tribune and the Northern Nevada Business Weekly serving Northern Nevada and Lake Tahoe’s South Shore.

Award winners in Carson City were:

Empire Elementary School: Awarded $1,500 for the creation of a library of science books that can be checked out and used to supplement other materials and to help support and solidify student learning. Books have been chosen for their correlation with the NGSS science standards. This program has the goal of increasing science scores in a Title 1 school where 100% of students receive free breakfast and lunch every day. Last year only 20% of the students were proficient in the NGSS science standards.

Fremont Elementary Pre-Kindergarten: Awarded $2,000 for a project that enhances the early learning environment of underprivileged students by providing materials and experiences that build upon their natural inclination to explore, build and question. Funds will purchase materials and storage for use in the classroom and for a visit to the Terry Lee Wells Discovery Museum. An inquiry-based approach will help four and five year olds see themselves as scientists and consumers of science.

Mark Twain Elementary School: Awarded $2,814 for an in-class robotics and coding lessons for pre-K through fifth grade students. Funds wills be used to purchase LEGO MINDSTORMS robot kits and books along with Fisher Price Code-a-Pillar sets and extensions. A STEM Coach will also provide an opportunity for interested students to participate in an afterschool Coding and Robotics Club and demonstrate their robotics and coding skills for their families.

Award winners in Churchill County were:

Churchill County Library: Awarded $3,000 to be used for the “Libraries Rock” Summer Reading Outreach Program at the Fallon Youth Club, Churchill SumFun and at NAS Fallon Child and Youth Programs. Weekly visits to these organizations will include time to read stories, provide books to take home and stamp a book log. Children will also get to know Library employees and feel more comfortable going to visit the library. More than 200 children ages 3-14 will be served through this collaborative effort.

The Churchill County Museum / Education Department: Awarded $940 for a weekly activity in the Churchill County Museum’s “Discovery Room” to help children Discover, Educate, Create and Communicate. Monthly themes will be drawn from The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library books. In addition to The Cat in the Hat books, funds will be used to buy supplies to produce and maintain a weekly activity such as a craft, science experiment or learning module. These activities will promote an interactive learning environment so that between 1,000 and 1,250 children and families can learn, read and play together each year.

Award winners in Washoe County were:

Incline Elementary School: Awarded $3,000 for delivery of Get in the Act’s Science Theater Workshops to all 340 students in grades K-5. Funds will make it possible for “Get in the Act!” science partners to be in the building for two-to-three weeks in order to give every student access to workshops that include topics like Weather, Rock Hounds, the Plant Life Cycle and Force and Motion. The school district does not provide funding for any auxiliary science instruction for grades K-5.

Sierra Nevada Journeys: Awarded $2,667 for funding for three Family STEM Nights. K-6 students, their parents and siblings will attend fun evenings with engaging stations and interaction that reinforce STEM concepts and foster curiosity, innovation and teamwork. Funds will be used for project coordination, program delivery and a portion of the consumable supplies and snacks used at each event. Approximately 600 students from three local low-income schools will be served by these activities.

Awarded in El Dorado County were:

Sierra House Elementary School: Awarded $2,800 for the “Full STEAM Ahead” program promoting art and technology literacy integrated into existing curriculum. Two strategies will be employed. For one, a credentialed art teacher will collaborate with teaching staff. Students will complete lessons on science and in the garden, create models based on Life and Earth Sciences lessons and then create a piece of art using best-practice arts education methods. Students take their artwork home to share their improved understanding of the creative process with family. The second strategy brings challenging technology to students while engaging in imagination, problem solving, creativity and teamwork skills. Funds will purchase a variety of STEAM-focused materials to support the robotic lessons, will fund art instruction and materials for art instruction. Lessons will reach all 517 students, as well as a weekly after-school club class.

Tahoe Valley Elementary: Awarded $2,989 for The Family Resource Center will use funds for development of a Family Literacy Garden at the school. Gains have been made in lowering the number of “below grade level” readers in this school, which has a large percentage of economically disadvantaged families and foster youth. This program will focus attention on family education, providing families with access to quality literature, a warm, inviting environment in which to read and information and training on how to effectively work with children to build critical thinking and literacy skills using non-threatening methods. Funds will purchase multi-level fiction and non-fiction titles, a “Free Little Library” will be purchased and installed and pamphlets will be created that talk about how to develop literacy skills.

South Lake Tahoe Family Resource Center: Awarded $1,000 for journals and writing materials to be used as part of a summer program for 1st through 5th graders. Participants will review the previous year’s reading program and continue reading and writing activities during the summer when children may fall below grade level. The “Parabajitos” programs allows underserved Latino youth to engage in supervised structured activities centered on education, healthy choices and respect for each other and the greater community in which we all live.

Marine Research Education, Inc.: Awarded $2,650 for a project focusing on increasing awareness of environmental stewardship and reducing the human effect on our ecosystem. Two classes at two schools (four classes total) will receive “on-shore” classroom teaching about the Lake Tahoe ecosystem. This lesson explains how both natural factors and human activities affect the ecosystem of the Lake. A second “on-the-water” lesson for the four classes will allow students to measure Lake clarity, view plankton collected from the Lake using a microscope and perform water quality analysis. The cost per class includes boat use, boat captain and teacher salaries, replacement of supplies, and insurance. Marine Research and Education has no administrative costs (program responsibilities are completed by Board Members without compensation).


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