Eagle View Elementary School in Breezy Point was awarded a $10,000 grant from Compeer Financial for an outdoor classroom space, including a planned yurt that Lonesome Cottage will construct.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed a variety of challenges to rural schools and their communities. Many schools tackled those challenges head on with creativity, innovation and commitment. Compeer Financial, a member-owned farm credit cooperative based in the Upper Midwest, partnered with the Rural Schools Collaborative to award $150,211 in Rural Schools Innovation Grants to 22 rural schools that developed exemplary innovative programs during the pandemic, directly impacting 12,888 students.

The Rural Schools Innovation Grants allowed schools to share what they started doing during the pandemic and how it worked. The funding will continue to advance these vital programs so more students can benefit from outside-the-box thinking.

“Even when faced with the unprecedented hardships of COVID-19, rural schools and communities persevered and turned their innovative ideas into reality,” John Monson, chief missions and marketing officer at Compeer Financial, said in a news release. “By awarding the top innovations with funding, we’re ensuring longevity for these programs and promoting new ways of thinking.”

Grants of up to $10,000 per school district were available through this one-time program. Rural public schools in Compeer Financial’s 144-county territory in parts of Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin were eligible to apply.