When school starts back in the fall, Marietta Public Schools will begin the year over a quarter of a million dollars richer, and it won’t cost their taxpayers a penny. The increase in funds comes as the result of the hard work of teachers and administrators at the school who participated in the arduous process of grant writing. It’s done on their own time. And sometimes it feels like running an obstacle course, but the end result is worth it – when you get the letter informing you that you’ve received the grant, it’s a warm-fuzzy like no other.

This year at Marietta, the list of things that’ll be paid for from sources other than the local tax base includes teacher training, programs to serve homeless, college prep, literacy development, STEM supplies and training, and an all-weather track. Some of the sources wish to recognized, and some, in the true spirit of philanthropy, do not. Whether they do or they don’t, the school is more than grateful for their help.

“Due to several grants, our school is going to be able to do some really great things this year,” said Superintendent Brandi Naylor.

One grant received this year is the McKinney Vento Grant, written by High School Counselor Kim Fraire. This grant provides $50,000 annually for three years. It funds programs and activities that support the school success of students experiencing homelessness.

Allowable expenditures include tutoring and supplemental instruction, before- and after-school programs, counseling services, purchase of school supplies, and food programs.

A $100,000 K20 GEAR UP grant awarded to the Middle School will follow last year’s seventh and eighth grade students until they graduate from high school, providing technology, supplies and professional development.

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, better known as the GEAR UP program, is a federal grant program that’s designed to increase college readiness and promote postsecondary success. GEAR UP partners with public schools with colleges, communities, and business organizations to provide services for students to ensure that they’re prepared for college.

GEAR UP requires school administrators and teachers to participate in research-based professional development opportunities designed to strengthen educational opportunities.

Elementary Principals Ann Rutledge and Dana McMillin were instrumental in securing approximately $100,000 in grant funds from an Oklahoma Tiered Intervention System of Support Grant.

“With this grant we receive system and literacy coaches, on-site observations, consultation and ongoing professional development,” said Rutledge. “It addresses both academic and behavioral difficulties that can affect student success and gives us a framework for organizing what we are already doing. We are very happy to be receiving this grant.”

During the 2018-19 school year, the school’s administration chose to focus on incorporating a state-of-the-art STEM program into the system, beginning in the middle school. In the spring, the Board of Education approved construction of a facility for the program, and work began to secure funding for the adoption of the program.

Carl Perkins: Transitions to Gateway, Verizon Innovative Learning, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Lottery, and Department of Environmental Quality License Tag grants were secured thanks to some hard work by STEM teacher Chris Dobbins. Proceeds from these grants total $56,000, which will be used for curriculum, training, and supplies to implement the program.

“We are thrilled to be able to make this STEM program a reality,” said Dobbins. “These grants can be used to purchase computer hardware and software, 3D printers, tools, robotics components, drones – all things that our students need in order to be ready to compete for jobs, but are generally too expensive for schools to purchase without some special help.”

Superintendent Naylor is excited about the possibilities afforded for the district’s students.

“These grants will allow us to provide opportunities for our students that we might not be able to provide without them,” said Naylor, “and I can’t say enough about how grateful we are for teachers and administrators who are willing to go the extra mile to make sure that our kids have those opportunities. 

“We are blessed to have these members of our staff. Their dedication to the students in our district is commendable.”

     Most grants are funded by charitable foundations, businesses, and groups that are interesting in helping children, although some do come from governmental agencies that have funds earmarked for certain projects. Wherever they come from, grant proceeds are a godsend for public schools, where it seems like funds are always limited and pennies must be pinched. So every grant dollar schools can scrape up is one dollar they won’t have to get from somewhere else.