WILLIAMSTOWN -- Parents, teachers, and members of the community are welcome to submit proposals for the Elementary School Endowment fund. This year, up to $20,000 in grant money is available, Williamstown Elementary School Principal Joelle Brookner said.
The fund has paid for garden projects and has also brought resident artists and even professional chefs to the school in the 15 years of its existence.
"One thing it allows is for a lot of innovation and creativity," Brookner said. "It's not something brought to the school by the Department of Education or by administrators. Ideas come from teachers, students, or community members."
According to the organization's website, a total of $150,000 has been raised in the past 10 years alone through fundraising efforts and donations.
The organization is run by a board of directors consisting of parents, teachers, administrators and community members, Brookner said, and is overseen by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.
The endowment recently brought Ghanaian musician Bernard Woma and his ensemble to the school. The group acted as artists-in-residence for two days providing workshops for students in Kindergarten through grade six. Students were also treated to a school-wide performance demonstrating traditional African music and culture.
Other past projects are smaller, Brookner said, including one which brought a honeybee hive to fourth-grade students learning about pollination.
The fund also brought Tom Schersten, math consultant, to the school for a week-long residency.
"His specialty is teaching hands-on programs for math," Brookner said. "That week, he held workshops with teachers and also worked with students."
After grants are submitted, the board will meet several times to review and prioritize grants, Brookner explained, before deciding whether or not to fund them. Some are partially funded, she added.
"The committee looks at how the program enriches the learning experience," Brookner said. "We look for unique partnerships and interesting ways to expose children to the world."
Anyone interested in applying for a grant must contact Brookner before submitting an application. Brookner can be reached at jbrookner@will iamstownelementary.org or at 413.458.5707.
Applications are due by Monday, April 15. Grants will be awarded by June.
Applications are available online at: www.berkshiretacon
To reach Edward Damon, email