Education Foundation Awards 60 Public School Proud Grants

Staff and volunteers from the Sioux Falls Public Schools Education Foundation spent the past three months awarding 60 Public School Proud Grants to educators at 28 sites in the Sioux Falls School District. Any educator in the district can apply for up to $10,000 to purchase supplies that will give students hands-on, immersive opportunities. Teachers have used grant dollars to purchase programmable robots, garden grow kits, pickleball equipment, musical instruments, books for English language learners, dissection kits, podcasting equipment, art supplies, math manipulatives, job training tools, virtual and augmented reality software, Smithsonian Science modules, sensory paths, flight simulators, and more.

The Education Foundation Board of Directors approved $118,000 in funding for the Public School Proud Grant Program in 2024. The largest grant was awarded at Jefferson High School; Melissa Hittner received $10,000 to purchase solar panels that will be installed this summer. In the application, she wrote, “By introducing solar panels, our pilot project will let students learn about renewable energy and how it helps to reduce carbon footprint.”

Native American students at Lincoln High School will use grant dollars to turn the school’s greenhouse into a living library, and they will study indigenous plants and flowers. At Ben Reifel Middle School, students in the RISE program will create and design projects using 3D printers. Whitter Middle School students received protective glasses to watch the solar eclipse in April. At the elementary level, kindergarten students are developing and practicing their fine motor skills with Legos, beading kits, magna tiles, linking chains, blocks, and tinker toys.  Fifth graders at R.F. Pettigrew Elementary are using reading games to improve comprehension skills.

Also this year, the Education Foundation surpassed $1 million in overall funding for the Public School Proud Grant Program. Courtney Wynthein, the PE and dance teacher at Eugene Field A+ Elementary, received $1,170 to purchase slip-on tap shoes for 400 students. It was at this award presentation that Education Foundation staff announced they had reached the $1 million milestone (

Sioux Falls School District sites that had Public School Proud Grant winners in 2024 include: Rosa Parks Elementary; Robert Frost Elementary; Terry Redlin Elementary; McGovern Middle School; John Harris Elementary; Discovery Elementary; Ben Reifel Middle School; Lincoln High School; the Instructional Planning Center; Anne Sullivan Elementary; Whittier Middle School; Cleveland Elementary; R.F. Pettigrew Elementary; JFK Elementary; Lowell Elementary; Oscar Howe Elementary; the Learning Lab; Garfield Elementary; Harvey Dunn Elementary; Jane Addams Elementary; Jefferson High School; Roosevelt High School; Eugene Field A+ Elementary; Hayward Elementary; Laura B. Anderson Elementary; Washington High School; Renberg Elementary; Hawthorne Elementary.

Since 2008, the Education Foundation has awarded 584 Public School Proud Grants, for a total of $1,018,000. In 2008, teachers could apply for up to $1,500 though the Public School Proud Grant Program (formerly known as Innovation in Education Grants). From 2009—2015, the Education Foundation Board of Directors capped grants at $1,000. In 2016, teachers could start applying for up to $10,000.  The average grant award is about $2,500.

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