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Waco Education Foundation awards a record $154,995 in innovative grants

2023-2024 Grant Funding Cycle


The Waco Education Foundation and its SurPRIZE Patrol visited 20 Waco ISD campuses on Thursday and Friday.  The group surprised 46 teachers with the exciting news that their 31 grant applications were approved for funding for the 2023-2024 school year. This year, the foundation is awarding a record $154,995 back to the district, bringing the total amount of grants funded over the past decade and a half to more than $2.15 million.


District teachers and staff had the opportunity to apply for funding through the foundation’s Innovative Grants program at the beginning of December. The program annually awards approximately $100,000 in grant funding in the four focus areas of early childhood development, enhanced programming for advanced students, extended education for staff, and emphasis on student performance.


This year’s grant projects span a wide array of topics and areas from STEM and science clubs, and performing and visual arts to outdoor classroom experiences, virtual reality lessons and field trips, and coding and robotics for GT students.


A list of grant recipients can be found below, and photos are available at the following link:


2023-2024 Innovative Grants Photo Album

SurPRIZE Patrol - Day 1

SurPRIZE Patrol - Day 2


Laramie Aars

Hillcrest PDS / J.H. Hines Elementary

“Coding and Robotics for GT Students”


Named in honor of: Cargill


Sherry Bagby & Jeannie Jenkins

Mountainview Elementary

“Engage! Excite! EXCEL!”


Named in honor of: Sturdisteel


Jessica Bancale & Matthew McMahon

Crestview Elementary

“Just Keep Playing


Named in honor of: Keurig Dr Pepper


Alison Davis & Megan Barragan

Lake Air Montessori Magnet

“Nature and Nurture Montessori Education in the Great Outdoors”


Named in honor of: Lowe’s of Waco


Shenequa Douglas & Stephanie Wessling

Tennyson Middle School

“Heroes & Athletes Initiative”


Named in honor of: CORE Construction


Cristina Dresner

Alta Vista Elementary

“Brincando Bridges: Becoming Brilliantly Biliterate”


Named in honor of: McCreary, Veselka, Bragg, and Allen, P.C.


Ron Fox & Teresa Nors

University High School

“Road Trip!”


Named in honor of: Allen Samuels Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram Fiat


Tori Garcia

Cedar Ridge Elementary

“Little Library Big Impact”


Named in honor of: First Financial Group of America


Janel Gleason

Kendrick Elementary

“Science Club”


Named in honor of: Sally and Johnny Bledsoe


Bonnie Holmstrom & Sally Peavy

Cesar Chavez Middle School

“Updated Ceramics Facilities”


Named in honor of: Waco Motorsports


Shawn Knuckles, Joel Colosimo & Amy Garrison

Tennyson Middle School / Waco High School

“Rah, Rah, Ree Let Us Print Your Tee”


Named in honor of: H-E-B


Kevin Lenker & Spencer Childers

Carver-Indian Spring Middle School

“Just In Case”


Named in honor of: CORE Construction


Cheryl McIlwain

West Avenue Elementary

“A World of Rhythm”


Named in honor of: Community Bank & Trust


Cathy Montemayor & Nelly Perez

Provident Heights Elementary

“Classroom Transformations Fuel Student Motivation”


Named in honor of: Sheehy, Lovelace & Mayfield, P.C.


Caroline Nadel

Cedar Ridge Elementary

“Core Words Board for Playground”


Named in honor of: Waco Motorsports


Teresa Nors

University High School

“Marking Time”


Named in honor of: Keurig Dr Pepper


Sharon Orcutt & Zonya Zuniga

GWAMA (Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy)

“Propel Girls in STEM”


Named in honor of: O’Connell Robertson


Michael Osborne & Reannon Ruark

University High School

“Let’s Get Smokin’”


Named in honor of: H-E-B


Sally Peavy & Bonnie Holmstrom

Cesar Chavez Middle School

“Mat Cutter Grant”


Named in honor of: Bird Kultgen Ford


Matt Rambo & Jocelyn West

GWAHCA (Greater Waco Advanced Health Care Academy)

“Modern Tools for Modern Times in Healthcare”


Named in honor of: Ascension Providence


Barbara Redenius

South Waco Elementary

“Light Up Our Learning”


Named in honor of: Lochridge-Priest


Myrna Rivas

Provident Heights Elementary

“cr-Osmo-tive Play”


Named in honor of: Alliance Bank Central Texas


Rachel Skopik & Dara Burleson

Parkdale Elementary

“Maker’s Space – Let’s tinker, explore, design, and create!”


Named in honor of: First National Bank of Central Texas


Joleigh Slough & Becky Aldridge

Dean Highland Elementary

“James Lewis Memorial Garden”


Named in honor of: Lowe’s of Waco


Melanie Spark & Katie Forbis

Alta Vista Elementary & Provident Heights Elementary

“D.R.U.M: Diversity, Relevance and Unity through Music”


Named in honor of: Educators Credit Union


Diane Sriram

Brook Avenue Elementary

“Sowing the Seed – Teaching in the Garden”


Named in honor of: Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers


Elizabeth Updegrove

Hillcrest PDS & Special Education

“Flexible Seats, Flexible Speech”


Named in honor of: Central National Bank


Matthew Vaadi & Larry Carpenter

Cesar Chavez Middle School

“Composer In-Residence”


Named in honor of: TFNB Your Bank for Life


Sarah Weatherly

Hillcrest PDS

“Ceramics Studio”


Named in honor of: H & B Packing Co., Inc.


Allison White & Lynzie Willett

Lake Air Montessori Magnet

“Talk ASL to Me”


Named in honor of: ATMOS Energy


Traci Winter

Waco High School

“Let’s Get Fired Up”


Named in honor of: Rogers-O’Brien Construction Company, LLC