Newsletter of the Needham Rotary Club for November 9th, 2021
Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Community Service and Social Activities:
Our Speaker: Sarah Winig, Administrative Director, Needham Education Foundation (Photo below)
Sarah started with the history of the Needham Education Foundation (NEF): it was established in 1990 with a $3000 donation by the Needham High School Class of 1939 at their 50th reunion in response to a challenge by the Superintendent, Dr. Frederick Tirrell, to raise funds for grants to support innovative educational programs in the public schools. The vision of the original Board was to create a sustaining fund that would fund annual grants from its investment returns. The NEF typically awards 4% of the fund annually, which -together with other funding sources- amounts to over $92,000 in grants to support Needham public education in 2020-2021. Cumulative grants exceed $3,500,000.
Their mission: to fund leading-edge programs that are outside of normal and expected public funding, enhancing the curriculum and providing a means for teachers, parents and students to learn, experiment and explore. They seek to fund programs in math and science, language and the arts, emerging technologies, and social development. The NEF is managed by a Board of Directors including a teacher representing each of the eight, public schools in Needham, and there is one, part-time, paid Administrative Director (Sarah).
The NEF has three grant cycles annually with typical grants ranging from $3,000 to $15,000. Teachers, parents and students can apply. Some recent grants include:
  • a free, open-to-all, four day STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workshop for 4th to 6th graders that was held in Memorial Park last summer. The students worked on engineering challenges and explored chemical reactions through rockets and volcanoes.
  • The NEF (and other groups) funded three, original compositions for the Needham High School Band when a uniquely qualified Berklee '20 graduate began student teaching here.
  • Last year, NEF funded the installation of sensory pathways at Mitchell and Eliot schools that are used by students when they need a therapeutic break.
NEF also funds "Collaboration Initiatives", which are larger, potentially multi-year projects. A recent example: the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative launched in June of '21. In the first phase, a consultant will assess progress towards the goals published in the Equity Audit in 2018. The consultant will comment on policies that can accelerate the anti-bias, antiracist work.
In addition to direct donations (there's a "Donate" tab on their website at  http://nefneedham.org ), you can support the work of the NEF by buying "gratitude cards", or an e-card, for $10 from the NEF website. The card goes to a teacher to express thanks for their hard work. Also, you can register to participate in the annual Trivia Bee; the next one is scheduled for March 10th, 2022.
Our Next Meeting: Tuesday November 16th at noon. Our Speaker will be: Cliff Rober, Rotary District 7910 Governor