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NJPA gives grants to local school districts

The National Joint Powers Alliance recently allocated more than $1.5 million in Innovation Funding to benefit Region 5 school districts. Innovation Funding Review day on May 12 gave an opportunity for nearly a dozen local schools and education pa...

The National Joint Powers Alliance recently allocated more than $1.5 million in Innovation Funding to benefit Region 5 school districts.

Innovation Funding Review day on May 12 gave an opportunity for nearly a dozen local schools and education partners to present their projects. Members heard project proposals, discussed and then awarded projects that had the most potential for student impact and success.

The formula for the program promotes out-of-the-box collaboration on projects that might otherwise not get off the ground. The NJPA Board of Directors gives final approval of the funding at its June meeting.

2016 Recommended Projects:

• Bridges Career Academy and Workplace Connection provides a career link between secondary and post-secondary institutions, and businesses from local communities in an effort to ensure the next generation of students are career and college ready for the workforce. Long-term goals for the group include expanding the number of Region Five schools using the program from 17 to 22, providing new resources for schools, and developing internship and educator in the workplace opportunities. The program requested $230,000 in Innovation Funding from NJPA.

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• Minnesota School-Based Occupational and Physical Therapists are initiating the First Annual Institute offered to every school district in the state of Minnesota. The local Paul Bunyan Education Cooperative is providing staff as presenters for the event. The goal of the project is to improve skills for implementing alternative service delivery models, promote evidence-based services, and improve understanding of related services in Minnesota schools. Educators asked for $22,500 to support the event.

• The Metier Program helps students build 21st century character traits and skills. Three local school districts are collaborating to use the program, including: Little Falls, Bertha-Hewitt, and Pillager Middle Schools. The districts requested $285,000 in Innovation Funding from NJPA.

• The Alternative Career Pathways initiative supports personalized professional development for educators. The program was developed out of a desire by teachers and administrators to find graduate-level programs with direct relevance to their classroom and content area. Little Falls, Menahga, Pequot Lakes, Pierz, Swanville, Upsala, Verndale, Bertha-Hewitt, Pillager, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley school districts will collaborate in the program, which started in Little Falls. The $300,000 request includes the cost of a regional coordinator for the program.

• Innovative Classroom Matching Funds was spearheaded by Pillager Public Schools, requesting $75,000 to be used for matching grant funding to a single 50I(c)(3) organization from each school district that raises funds for innovative classroom grants in public schools within Region 5. This project would match dollar for dollar any money raised up to $5,000 for a public school district foundation.

• The Search Institute and The Roadmap to REACH, was proposed for the Pine River-Backus School District, Pequot Lakes School District, Staples-Motley School District, Little Falls School District, Northland Communities Schools and Crosslake Charter School. The Roadmap to REACH is a research-based and data-driven program that will strengthen student motivation to succeed in school and beyond by developing non-cognitive skills. The proposal requested $72,100 which would include regional coordination support.

• Follow IT Through Activity Day allows school leaders the opportunity to provide needed time for effective implementation of new initiatives, while providing families a safe and dependable plan for their children during the non-school day. The Staples-Motley School District is seeking $23,050 for the proposal.

• The Rural Minnesota CEP, Inc. Career Advisor Program is seeking to provide career adviser services to an additional 4,500 students in the 16 school districts that they currently serve throughout the five-county Central Minnesota Region including Crow Wing, Todd, Morrison, Wadena and Cass Counties. These services provide students and families with information, guidance, and opportunities to connect them with community employers and regional occupations in demand. The RMCEP was seeking $374,000 in Innovation Funding.

• The Open Educational Resource Project promotes and advances the use of open textbooks and other open access materials for students who take College in the Schools and/or Advanced Standing Articulation courses at Region 5 high schools offered through Central Lakes College. There are five school districts involved with the pilot, including Pequot Lakes, Little Falls, Pine River-Backus, Staples-Motley, and Pierz. CLC requested $64,250 for NJPA Innovation Funding.

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• The Central Minnesota Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities is available to juniors and seniors from Staples and Wadena-Deer Creek high schools. The program gives students the opportunity to work side by side with successful business people from the community. The initiative is seeking $21,500 in funding.

• Technology Mobile is a collaborative, technology-sharing effort within Region 5, namely CLC and Minnesota State Community & Technical College, and are seeking $50,000 in 2016 NJPA Innovation Funding to further expand their program. For the 2016-17 school year, Technology Mobile has expanded to five new schools in Region 5: Bertha-Hewitt, Pillager, Staples-Motley, Upsala and Verndale.

Innovation Funding was created to help Region 5 entities fund initiatives aimed at creating collaboration and improving the region. A second funding review day will be held for Region 5 city and county projects in June.

NJPA is a public service agency committed to providing cooperative solutions that assist government, education, and nonprofit entities as they strive for efficient public service. NJPA serves Cass, Wadena, Crow Wing, Todd and Morrison counties.

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