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Grants Awarded to Schools

America Online, the Loudoun Education Foundation and the Claude Moore Foundation help students.

Loudoun County public schools have received more than $125,000 in grants from three sources.

Presentations were made Tuesday night at the School Board meeting in Leesburg.

Richard D’Amato, America Online vice president for community investment, presented up to $10,000 each, in grants, to three Loudoun County schools that have created innovative programs to nurture lifetime career aspirations for disadvantaged youth. The AOL Aspirations Fund provided funding for Dominion High School and Seneca Ridge Middle School in Sterling and Heritage High School in Leesburg. AOL, headquartered in Ashburn, awarded grants to a total of 11 middle and high schools in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland. It also awarded “partial” renewal grants to 20 existing AOL Aspires schools, bringing the total grant amount to more than half a million dollars. D’Amato presented Broad Run High School and Farmwell Middle School in Ashburn and Sterling Middle School in Sterling with renewal grants. Melissa Stirling, an AOL spokeswoman, said the company decided against disclosing the exact amount of the grants.

DOMINION HIGH SCHOOL had sought a grant to expand its after-school English as a Second Language Program from one day to two days per week. The grant will provide training to help the teachers work more effectively with the students. Students will earn points to buy Palm Pilots. The program’s goal is to narrow the achievement gap and the technology gap and to encourage parent participation.

Seneca Ridge planned to eliminate cost as a barrier for about 50 students who wanted to play in the band. The school will use the grant to buy musical instruments and equipment, help with their repairs and upkeep, offer assistance with the band uniforms and provide after-school tutorial sessions. The administration hopes to the band will help students to develop self-confidence and self-discipline.

Heritage High School planned to use the money to assist students with limited English proficiency to improve their grades and to prepare them for life after graduation. The school’s International Study Group Scholarship Program meets after school four days a week. Participants will receive a $500 scholarship for their post-secondary education.

AOL provided renewal grants to:

* Broad Run High School to buy computer and audio-visual equipment for at risk ninth graders. They will use the money to further their commitment to the students and to increase parental involvement.

* Farmwell Station Middle School for a study skill group of 25 students, focusing on developing good study skills, test-taking strategies, setting goals for the future, and other skills.

* Sterling Middle School to augment its accelerated reading program, helping sixth and seventh graders to overcome fears of reading more difficult books and to improve comprehensive. They continue to enhance this program.

D’Amato said the grant program, in its third year of existence, would help students reach farther then they would have without the assistance. “It’s hallmark is flexibility and empowering teachers and empowering … the students,” he said.

THE LOUDOUN EDUCATION FOUNDATION awarded mini-grants to 25 county schools. The majority of the schools are in the eastern part of the county. Among the recipients were Belmont Station Elementary in Ashburn for Checkmates at the Station, $500; Dominion High in Sterling for Budding Botanists, $500; Eagle Ridge Middle in Ashburn for Young Architects – Children Designing Their Future, $500; Hillside Elementary in Ashburn for Supporting Young Readers, Little River Elementary in South Riding for the Summer Reading Program, Lowes Island Elementary in Sterling for Developing Positive Social Interactions, $500; Park View High in Sterling for SCHOOL SMART, $500; Potowmack Elementary in Sterling for Boosting Reading Comprehension, $500; for Look, Listen and Read! $500; Welcoming Students to Williamsburg, $500; and Math Superstars, $3,000, River Bend Middle in Sterling for its Robotics Club, Rolling Ridge Elementary for the Close Up Foundation Civics Assembly, $300; Stone Bridge High for Focus on Stone Carving, $500; Sugarland Elementary for a fourth-grade After School Book Club, $500; and Sully Elementary for Teaching Reading Strategies to Second Language Families, $300.

Fred Flemming, executive director of the Loudoun Education Foundation (LEF) and former School Board member, commended the teachers for their innovative grant ideas. When the foundation was first established in 1991, it struggled with raising money and matched the Washington Post mini-grant of $1,500. Last year, the foundation distributed more than $27,000 in mini-grants. “It also tells you that the teachers are interested in doing bigger and better things in their classroom,” he said.

THE GOOD SHEPHERD ALLIANCE Inc. sought fee waivers for children who live in homeless shelters to attend after-school programs for free. Mark Gunderman, vice chairman of the Alliance’s board of directors, told the School Board that he met with Supervisor Lori Waters (Broad Run), who worked with the Claude Moore Foundation to obtain an $82,000 grant for 35 children to attend.

“We have registered seven homeless children in August. The buses stop right in front of the shelter,” he said.

Good Shepherd Alliance has helped more than 2,200 men, women and children since its inception in 1983. The nonprofit organization expects to register 200 people this year and turn away 500 due to lack of space, funding and manpower. Other shelters will turn away 500 more.

“Homelessness can have detrimental effects on children’s cognitive, emotional, physical and psychological development,” he said, reading a prepared statement to the board. The Good Shepherd Alliance’s objective is to build quality homeless shelters and poverty prevention program, he said.