One of the DPS Foundation's key activities is developing and funding innovative ideas from Durham’s students, educators and families that bolster student success and support growth and retention of Durham’s teachers.
To apply for a grant or learn more, please visit the Apply for a Grant page.
Grants for student, educator and parent-led projects across Durham Public Schools are possible because of DPS Foundation supporters.
Past Funded Projects
In March 2019 DPSF announced its first round of grants to fund 19 student, educator and parent-led projects across Durham Public Schools. In its first round of grants, DPSF has funded 19 student-led projects, parent engagement projects and educator professional learning for over $55,000 in total funds.
Read below about these great projects happening across Durham Public Schools.
Hear from SALUD
Scholar Academy for Latinxs United for Diversity (SALUD)
DPS’s Latinx population has drastically increased in the last decade. This grant will support an organization that directly supports the academic and social needs of Latinx students in 11th grade. Scholar Academy for Latinxs United for Diversity (SALUD) empowers Latinx youth to be catalysts for progressive change on a personal and communal level through the critical exploration of health and its social determinants. SALUD has transformed from a week long summer course to a 12 session semester long program that challenges students to be agents of change. Funds from this grant will help cover 5 sessions of the program. “Our hope is that this program expands to include more students, and serves as an official development program for DPS Latinx high school students” SALUD sees the inequities within education and uses their program to build upon student’s past experiences to ensure the success of Latinx students within DPS.
Creating Opportunities for Southwest’s Two Way Language Immersion Program
Southwest Elementary School features the district’s only Two Way Language Immersion Program (TWLIP). While Southwest is seeing the achievement gap close with Hispanic students (Hispanic males performing 20 points higher on End of Grade testing) there is not equitable growth across all racial groups.
This grant will provide support specific to TWLIP for 15 teachers and instructional assistants. This includes attendance to the 2019 NC Dual Language Immersion Conference, paid summer planning days to build classroom and school teams, and align curriculum across grade levels that incorporates effective research based practices. Teachers will participate in a book study highlighting research based methods that promote equity in TWLIP and will build a library of materials as a resource for planning. Access to these funds will ensure “that our program better meets program goals of supporting ALL students in becoming academically successful, culturally competent, bilingual, and biliterate.” Not only will 150 students in the TWLIP at Southwest benefit from this grant, but teachers in Southwest’s TWLIP hope to share these best practices with other DPS schools that also desire to create TWLIP in their schools.
Responsive Classroom Training for Club Boulevard Elementary
Club Boulevard Humanities Magnet School has identified and is implementing a program that supports the district’s strategic goal to “Provide a Safe School Environment that Supports the Whole Child”. Many classroom teachers have been trained and are implementing Responsive Classroom practices, but the school needs additional funds to train all teachers, instructional assistants and resource teachers to ensure fidelity and consistency across the school. This grant will allow 9 additional teachers to attend the Responsive Classroom training this summer. This program promotes a positive school culture that addresses social and emotional learning. The Responsive Classroom has allowed students at Club Blvd to problem solve and become active participants in their learning. With more staff trained Club hopes to further that impact to all classrooms.
Racial Equity in DPS Agriculture and Food Education
Durham Public Schools Hub Farm staff and Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers from across the district seek “systemic change in how we engage DPS students in agriculture and food careers”. In a field with a long history of systemic racism, teachers lack training and a curriculum that supports equitable education. This grant will open access to a training by Soul Fire Farm CTE educators and Hub Farm staff (who open the farm to all schools) will be able to integrate intentional anti-racist work into their practices and learn research based methods to address “the whole child, creating better educational and career outcomes” for all their students. This training directly supports the district’s strategic goal 1A by providing “teachers with rich, standards-based core curricula that are culturally reflective of student demographics.”
And 2A by supporting the implementation of research-based cultural frameworks to support the social-emotional health and safety of students and staff.” This training will directly impact these educators and the 3,500 students they interact with throughout the year.
Restorative Practices at Southern School of Energy and Sustainability
Like Durham Public Schools, teachers and staff at Southern School of Energy and Sustainability (SSES) are on board with building a restorative mindset (Strategic Plan Goal 2B). Restorative practices aim to solve conflict and repair harm among individuals. With this grant a team of teachers at SSES will attend a multi-day training, access support materials and have follow-up support in Restorative Practices. This team of 18 teachers will be able to “incorporate restorative practices in our school to strengthen relationships with our students, prevent negative behaviors in our classrooms, resolve conflict, and promote a healthy and rigorous academic environment for all of our students to prepare them for life after high school.” School wide restorative practice training has the potential to change the issue of equity in discipline, helping staff and students to de-escalate conflict and behaviors that lead to the inequitable suspension of students of color. Less suspensions and less behavioral issues will lead to more students in class and on task and will allow more students at Southern School of Energy and Sustainability to reach their full academic and social potential.
Changing the Groundwater at DSA Through Racial Equity Awareness at Durham School of the Arts
Durham School of the Arts has tried various sporadic initiatives to celebrate the diversity of their students while dismantling the racism that persists in education, but would like to see a school-wide consistent initiative to tackle this problem. This grant will allow more members of the school to have a baseline training to learn about systemic racism as well as follow up trainings led by DPS and other equity based partners. The equity team at DSA, composed of teachers and administrators from both the middle school and high school, sees these trainings as a way to foster both staff- student relationships and staff-staff relationships. The Groundwater training by Racial Equity Institute (REI) will allow teachers to begin to recognize their own bias and reflect on their own practice. Follow up meeting lead by DSA’s own teachers, district staff and outside organizations will help to address school wide equity issues. 97% of DSA teacher reported interest in attending equity trainings, this grant makes that desire a reality. “Our approach is truly groundwater in that we’re not jumping to solutions and practices but instead starting with an honest look at systemic racial inequity and how it impacts public education. We are also including all staff and not just faculty with the hope to create broader and more sustainable change at our school.”
Equity-Oriented School Improvement at Riverside High
Riverside High School has started a School Improvement process to allows their team to engage in systemic, equity-oriented transformation. In a partnership with The Equity Paradigm they have started this process, but will use this grant to continue, build and expand this process to create a safe and more inclusive school community. Through this process Riverside’s school improvement team will first learn about systemic issues in education and their role in it, then will give the team tools to create and implement a plan that addresses equity throughout the school. With extra support of The Equity Paradigm, funds to support substitute educators to cover team members’ time out of the classroom and money to cover supplies Riverside hopes to create and maintain an equity based School Improvement process that can be launched district wide.
Parent Kindergarten Registration Kick Off
The Office of Early Education in Durham Public Schools understands that building a relationship with families starts before the first day of kindergarten. This grant will help the Office of Early Education link families and schools in a Kindergarten Registration Kick Off event. This event will feature all 30 elementary schools along with staff members and data manager. Families will be able to participate in activities, put together reading and math kits, eat and register their child for kindergarten well before the school year starts. Creating a district wide event will allow multiple schools to create connections with families early and encourage attendance from day one. This registration kick off event will help families to “form positive and productive relationships that will last until graduation.”
Parent-led Community Conversations on Race Info Series
Parents engagement is a key to student success. As stakeholders in the education system, parents “need a seat at the larger table in order to feel that they have agency within the system and that their issues, values, and goals are being heard”. Three Durham Public Schools parents will use this grant to facilitate a 2 session community conversation on race and education. These sessions will lead families and students to better understand how race plays into their life in school and give them courage to express the role race plays in their life both in and out of school. Parents will be empowered to dialogue with schools around race and equity. “It is our hope that these conversations will continue, not just in schools, but in homes and within the larger community as well, and that we can continue the urgent healing that Durham needs to ensure that all children have a fair shot at education.”
Resource Center for Spanish Speaking Parents and Families at Neal Middle
Neal Middle School wants to create a school that embraces ALL families as part of the community. Families are a centerpiece of Neal’s school improvement plan and this grant they will be able to create a resource center to create community with Spanish Speaking families. This one stop shop will feature computer access with translation headphones, free reading materials for students and families, opportunities to connect to community partners, and a safe space for conferences with a bilingual liaison. Providing this space not only addresses the holistic needs of Spanish speaking students but will create an environment where Spanish speaking families voice will be heard. Neal hopes that this not only helps families but is a space where families can provide feedback to the school to help Neal improve their practice and community engagement.
Engagement of Parents of African American Children in Middle Schools
In 2016 the first Parents of African American Children (PAAC) Committee began at one DPS elementary school. Since then it has grown to 10 schools. A subcommittee of school PTAs, successful PAACs seek to intentionally engage parents in order to increase African American student achievement, address and change school culture and climate to strengthen connections with marginalized parents. The first school to implement a PAAC committee saw the greatest growth in academic achievement in the district among African American students. There is a districtwide demand to create PAAC committees at every school, but with limited capacity leadership has had to say no to expanding. This grant will address that need in 3 district middle schools, Brogden Middle School, Githens Middle School and Durham School of the Arts. The funds will go toward data collection, training on how to create, grow and maintain a PAAC as well as ongoing district wide training. “ We hope to also learn what it takes to keep parents of African American children engaged and connected to their school community in order to prevent barriers arising in the future.”
Lion Pride Unified Parents at Glenn Elementary
Under the leadership of a new principal Glenn has focused this year on building partnerships with families and the community. Three parents at Glenn along with the Community in Schools Site Coordinator have a plan to change the landscape of parental involvement. This grant will help this team create the Lion Pride Unified Parents group changing Glenn from a “drop and go” culture to one that encourages families to have pride and give back to their school. This group will use the funds to “actively recruit parents to join the Lion Pride Unified program, explore grade level and school wide needs and opportunities, host parent social and engagement events promoting positive friendships and support systems.” This parent led group hopes to Increase parent involvement that will continue eve after students have left Glenn.
A Great Start!: New Family Orientations and School On-Boarding at EK Powe
EK Powe families agree that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. With this grant families at EK Powe will host multiple New Family Orientations that will create a sense of belonging, offer the opportunity to share information, build community and inspire engagement. Not only will these orientations build community among parents, but will get students in the door earlier creating the opportunity for teachers to better understand the needs of their incoming students. Returning students and families will have the opportunity to step up and develop leadership and public speaking skills. This grant will help parent leaders at EK Powe to build their community while not overburdening teachers and staff at the school and will create a larger network of connected, engaged and active parents.
Honoring Pauli Murray at Hillside High
Under student leadership, The Hillside Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) will honor Hillside Alumna Pauli Murray, with a mural inside Hillside High School. GSA will partner with the Hillside art department, other interested community members, and members of Durham’s Pauli Murray Project to create a mural that “will promote positivity and pride around the community as a whole.” This student led project will help students develop their leadership skills while celebrating the LGBTQ community. This grant will provide needed painting and educational supplies to create a mural that will help increase the visibility of GSA and will help to promote and support the LGBTQ community within Hillside.
Sensory garden and outdoor learning space at Lucas Middle
Lucas Middle School uses Project Based Learning to approach education. This grant will help fund a project that will not only help with one learning experience, but will impact the school as a whole. With student collaboration the 6th grade team will create an outdoor learning space that features a sensory garden, space for instruction and a place to teachers and students to relax and enjoy a break from the traditional classroom. This space has the opportunity to expand and be a collaborative space for a variety of subjects as well as students in the Autism spectrum separate setting class. One Lucas 6th grader said: “This idea will help me for many reasons. Instead of just sitting inside all day, us kids will be able to get a breath of fresh air while interacting with the nature around us. It is also the perfect way to really engage with your classmates and have fun. It is a brilliant idea and one I think we will all love.”
SROs - Students Reaching Out - on School Safety
A group of DPS high school seniors “have always seen Durham as a place where people are encouraged to respectfully share their opinions and work together despite perceived differences.” They will use this grant to open up a conversation on School Resource Officers (SROs) who have become a polarizing topic in Durham. With these funds members of the Youth Justice Project’s Youth Steering Committee will conduct a town hall meeting that engages students, School Resource Officers, community leaders, elected officials, teachers, parents and other community organizations to improve the school climate. They hope conversations will lead to policy change, codified roles of SROs and safer schools. They have all benefited from an educational system that has encouraged them and pushed them to grow but realize this is not the reality for all DPS students.The Youth Justice Project’s Youth Steering Committee hopes that this conversation will allow them to leave a positive impact on DPS long after they walk across the graduation stage.
PAAC Family Nights at Lakewood Montessori Magnet Middle School
The Lakewood Montessori Magnet Middle School PAAC (Parents of African American Children) piloted Family Nights to build community, engage parents in training and dialogue and offer supplemental tutoring for students. Without a sustainable source of funding these Family Nights fizzled out. With this grant the PAAC at Lakewood Montessori Magnet Middle School will begin biweekly family nights. Funding will provide money to pay teachers to tutor students in relevant math and ELA topics, pay for childcare (the biggest barrier in parent involvement) and provide refreshments for all involved. With some barriers to parental involvement funded through the grant parents will be able connect, share resources, and learn how to best support and advocate for their child. The Lakewood PAAC sees these Family Nights as an opportunity for all of Lakewood’s community to gather to close the achievement gap and allow all stakeholders to feel they have a seat at the table. As the first PAAC in a DPS middle school this program has the potential to spread to other middle schools and engage the diverse base of students and families at Lakewood. The PAAC at Lakewood Montessori Middle School, as well as the PTA, teachers, and administrators are all committed to the important work of eliminating the achievement gap in their school community This grant will help to empower families with the tools, knowledge, and resources to best support students and be actively engaged in their education.
Parent Digital Literacy Training Pilot at Neal Middle
Technology has become an integral educational tool, but many parents are confused or see it as a distraction to their child’s education. The digital divide disproportionately impacts the Hispanic community limiting work and learning that can happen outside of school This grant will facilitate a collaboration between Durham Public Schools, Digital Durham and the Kramden Institute to host a three session digital literacy training program that could be scaled to all middle schools. This team has chosen Neal Middle School to host this pilot due to its population (50% non-english speaking parents) and to support Neal’s School Improvement plan which focuses on parent engagement. With the grant Neal Middle School will host the first 3 session parent training to improve parent ability to support their students’ use of instructional technology and enhance the ability to communicate their students’ needs effectively to DPS school personnel. While partners are donating some resources, funds are needed for translators, childcare, food and curriculum adaptations. The model for this program is based on a successful program called Digital Charlotte. As participants of this program parents will receive a free computer from Kramden Institute (after completion of all 3 sessions), access and information of low cost internet and tools to ensure they can be partners in their child's digital world. The training will take place in conjunction with already establish Title I family nights and will target families with limited access to technology. The goal is for this pilot to be studied and revised based on success and feedback then implemented in schools across the district.
Powering Our World with Power Bands at Spring Valley Elementary
A third grade teacher at Spring Valley Elementary aims to increase student physical activity and help feed children across the world. With this grant her students will receive and wear Unicef Kid Power Bands daily. Power Bands provide meals to children based on the activity level of the students that wear it, while also engaging students in global issues. These bands will encourage students to be physically active throughout the day helping their brains to be more prepared for learning in the classroom. Not only will students be more active throughout the day, but they will also become better global citizens. This renewable project will be able to impact students for years to come.