Looking back over the past 30 years, the Excellence in Education Foundation has been awarding grants to support enhanced educational opportunities for Tahoe Truckee Unified School District students, and it is nothing short of incredible to see how the organization has made a positive impact on student learning.
In 1990, following the launch of the Skiing for Schools fundraising program, the Foundation made the decision to respond to teacher-identified needs in the classroom, rather than district-identified needs.
This led to the Foundation’s first official grant cycle during the 1991-92 school year, giving TTUSD teachers the opportunity to identify ways they wanted to provide new learning experiences in their classrooms.
Eight grants were awarded that first year, totaling $7,500 and funding things like a “life lab” that provided each student with one square foot of garden to cultivate at Sierra Mountain Middle School; art equipment; access to a Young Author’s Conference; and funding for “Living History Day,” a program that continues to be supported today by the Excellence in Education Foundation.
“I received my first grant in 1991-92 from Excellence in Education — laserdisc equipment and appropriate discs for the Science department. The machine, with fun, interactive science mysteries, brought a new and engaging activity to my classroom. I felt like I had entered the world of modern technology,” said Nancy McNair, teacher at North Tahoe School. “Now, 25 years later, I have the privilege of walking around our school and seeing the numerous contributions from Excellence in Education throughout the school.”
Over the years, Excellence in Education’s grant awarding process has continually evolved, but one thing that has remained the same is the time and effort the Foundation’s staff and board of directors takes to research the grant requests that are submitted, listen to educators, adapt to the needs of the time, and continually work to provide opportunities for educators and students to enhance their educational experiences.
“The Excellence in Education Foundation grants have allowed our teachers and students access to ‘modern’ educational tools enhancing the educational experience of the learning community,” continued McNair. “This type of foundation, supporting the education of the community, is rare and extremely special. Few school districts are the benefactors of such an organization.”
Today, the Foundation gives approximately $250,000 each year in grants and partnerships to teachers and students within the TTUSD and has supported major district-wide initiatives including the Chromebook program and the 21st-century classroom.
“We are proud not only to be long-time partner of TTUSD, but to continue to have the ability to make a difference in the classroom and in the learning experiences offered to students within the district,” said Laura Brown, executive director of the Excellence in Education Foundation. “As we surpass the 30-year mark of operating in the Tahoe-Truckee community, it’s rewarding to be able to look back on all that has been accomplished in support of the students and educators within the TTUSD.”