Stories of Impact

Stories of Impact

Little Theater Field Trip

4th graders at Dr. Williams Elementary School in Urbana visited the Little Theater on the Square in Sullivan, Illinois to learn about careers in the world of theater. The experience was so impactful that teacher Lane Cannon-Gjerde is doing it again with this year’s 4th grade students.

For Ms. Lane Cannon-Gjerde’s 88 fourth graders, the classroom extends far beyond the colorful walls of her drama classroom. Last November, Ms. Cannon-Gjerde took the fourth graders from Dr. William Preston elementary school to The Little Theater in Sullivan, Illinois. This field trip was made possible by the funds from the Champaign Urbana Grant Foundation.

Champaign Central Math Escape Room becomes a reality with a CUSF Collaborative Grant

Math teachers at Central High School had been discussing the possibility of adding an escape room style experience to the Math curriculum. Erin Carmichael led the way by submitting a grant proposal for the purchase of materials to set up the Math Escape Rooms to be used at not just Central High School but in collaboration with Centennial math teacher Jay Hooper and Urbana H.S. math teacher Dan Bechtel.

Making a difference in our schools.

Since 1990, CU Schools Foundation has accepted applications from educators in the Champaign and Urbana public schools, and awarded MORE THAN A MILLION DOLLARS based on these proposals. We fund a broad spectrum of projects to help children of all ages and all levels of accomplishment. The benefits of these projects continue long after the initial investment.

“When the community supports the CU Schools Foundation, they are investing in learning resources for C-U students that launch them from the classroom into authentic learning that can be carried into real-life careers.”

Laura Hlinka and Janice Hari
Urbana Middle School

Animal Investigators


Erica Cooper-Peyton’s 1st graders at Dr. Preston Williams Elementary in Urbana were visited by a variety of animals and plants thanks to a $250.00 Compact Grant. Erica worked with Anita Purves Nature Center to provide 5 one hour plant and animal investigations right in the classroom. Students participated in hands on Next Generation Science Standards aligned activities and experiments. Naturalists from Anita Purves Nature Center brought reptiles, owls, worms, plants and more helping students gain in depth understanding of the life cycles, characteristics, and adaptations of these plants and animals.

Overheard in Ms. Cooper-Peyton’s classroom:

“I saw an owl. A real owl! In my classroom!” -A.C.

“I didn’t know turtles could be fast! They can actually run, even the ones with only 3 legs.” -R.B.

“I always thought snakes were slimy and gross. Cornelia was so soft and smooth. I liked when she went into Ms. Emily’s pocket!” -J.B.

Tackling real world challenges

This fall, as part of our latest COLLABORATIVE GRANT, students from Edison Middle School and Urbana High School joined forces to plant crops, dig a pond, test soil, build solar distillation units, harvest water and make it potable for consumption, create Farm-to-Table menus and generate hands-on connections between scientific theory and practice.

“There are lots of jobs here, and it makes it easier to be part of a team.”

Edison Middle School student

“This project is the perfect working lab for my environmental science students and my animal and land science students'” says Dr. Joni White, UHS Science and Agriculture teacher. “Real world experiences are essential for understanding and honing problem solving skills.”

Engaging students through the arts

Cara Maurizi, a music teacher at King Elementary in Urbana, and Lisa Ferguson, a first grade teacher at the same school, believe the arts are essential to education. The two teamed up on a grant proposal to connect Next Generation Science Standards with the arts. They developed lessons in five subject areas, and each lesson fuses art, literacy and science.

Exploring careers

Career Realism is a new project designed to help ninth and tenth graders research and explore careers they might not have considered in high demand fields such as culinary science, veterinary medicine, engineering, carpentry, child development and more.

In November, more than 130 students from Centennial, Central and Urbana High Schools toured businesses related to their career areas of interest.

Developing skills

Centennial High School art teacher Stacey Gross wanted to provide her AP Studio Art students with the opportunity to learn a range of printmaking skills, so she applied for an I.D.E.A. Grant from Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation. With funding from the grant she was able to take her students on a field trip to the Nobel Ink Laboratory on the University of Illinois campus.

Taking additional steps

Bradley Brenner, a physical education teacher at Wiley Elementary includes pedometers activities in his gym class, thanks to a Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation I.D.E.A. Grant. Brenner wears a pedometer daily and says it encourages him to take more steps. He believes pedometers persuade students to stay active by giving them a concrete goal to achieve.

Broadening worlds

When Abby Heras submitted her Gift of Music grant proposal to CU Schools Foundation last fall, her goal was to introduce students at International Prep Academy (IPA) to traditional mariachi music and increase the materials in the school’s music library. But the impact of her GLOBAL FOLKS project extended far beyond those goals.

More Stories of Impact

Exploring Engineering
Standing Up for Learning

Creating Biologists

Observing Owls
Fostering Collaboration
Creating Engineers at Prairie

Preparing Students for Life

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