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Recipients of 2014 Coginchaug Valley Education Foundation grants attended a reception on June 19 at Strong School and spoke about their programs. (Photo Credit: Mark Dionne)

CVEF awards 2014 grants

The Coginchaug Valley Education Foundation revealed the recipients of their 2014 grants and awarded those grants at a reception at Strong School on June 19.

“We have funded 10 grants, more than ever,” said Nancy Earls, chair of CVEF’s grants committee. CVEF, which seeks to promote life-long learning in the community, has been awarding grants since 2009. Including the 2014 grants, CVEF has given out 43 grants worth almost $60,000.

According to CVEF executive board member Betsy White Booz, the group used an automated process and workshops to publicize and streamline the grant program.

“I was just so excited by the variety we got,” said Booz of the grant winners. “It’s a good cross section of arts, [public] schools, private school, libraries, and towns.”

According to the list of grant recipients, several of the grants are directed at adult learning. The Durham Garden Club was awarded a $1,500 grant for “Jump Into Spring!” an expo with speakers to help gardeners to create “beautiful, nature friendly gardens.”

The Durham Public Library will use a CVEF grant “to conduct a series of hands-on workshops for adults ages 18 and up who have very limited or no knowledge of computer use, e-mail, Internet or social media.”

Children’s Librarian Christine Michaud, who accepted on behalf of the library, said, “Our experience is that many adults do not know the basics.”

The Levi Coe Library also received a grant, which Children’s Librarian Vicki Berry will use to establish a series of book paths at Peckham Park. Book pages set over the course of a path will encourage intergenerational walkers to move through the book as they move through the park. Berry said the project was inspired by a similar one in Vermont and that the book would change once per month.

Nancy Winship-Poole also accepted a grant to encourage reading. With her Paws for Reading program, Winship-Poole brings Bailey, her 3 year old rescued Australian Shepherd to John Lyman School as a companion for young readers. According to the grant application, “The idea is to provide kids with a less intimidating and more relaxed atmosphere where they can practice their reading.”

Winship-Poole said she could sense the excitement when she visits Lyman, “I walk down the hall and no one knows my name. It’s just ‘Bailey!’ ‘Bailey!’ ‘Bailey!’”

The Independent Day School received a CVEF grant to run a workshop for designing and building board games, with a goal of fostering critical and innovative thinking.

Three other grants involved building and design. Betsy Dean, with Durham Middlefield Youth and Family Services, will hold a camp called “Dungeons, Dragons, & Duct Tape” in August with youth building castles and armor from cardboard. Jenny Lussier, RSD13 Media Specialist, will direct students in building and tinkering with simple materials. The Durham Public Library will bring in teachers from the Eli Whitney Museum to run building workshops for children in grades 3-6 with each workshop focusing on a different scientific concept.

One grant went to community theater PaperHouse Productions. (For disclosure, this reporter helps run that theater group.) PaperHouse will establish a junior board to give children with a strong interest in theater an on-going group where they will learn first hand the elements of putting on a show, from publicity to lobby features.

Booz said CVEF was excited about the grants this year, especially after the success of past recipients. “What they have in common is each one is going to enrich the lives of adults and children in our community,” Booz said.

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