The Bright Minds Foundation Announces 2014 Staff and Teacher Grant Awardees


Bright Minds has awarded $14,775 to several Howard County Public School Teachers and Staff during the month of December 2013, which will be used to implement innovative classroom projects during 2014.

The grant program was created to fulfill the need of teachers who developed innovative projects to enhance learning and often tried to pay for them out of pocket.  The program is entirely within the mission of the Foundation, which is to bring private money to support education in Howard County in ways the budget may not always provide.

Staff and teachers competed for grants ranging from $500 - $2000 to implement projects in a number of 21st Century Competency categories, such as Heath and Wellness Awareness; Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurship Literacy; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); Information and Communications Technology Literacy and Global and Civic Awareness.  Additionally, to be selected, proposed projects had to show as well that they met the principles of the Foundation:  equity and equality, education innovation and skills for a lifetime.  Funding for the program was provided by community partners and supporters, as shown below.

An award of $2000 was made to Dr. Maddy Halbach of the ARL under the category of Financial Literacy for her program Investing in Your Future which is intended to attract middle school students, who might otherwise not have this vision for themselves, to consider a future career in finance.  Funding for this grant has been provided by the Capital One Bank.

Under the STEM category, and funded by a grant from Northrop Grumman, were  teachers Jennifer Forgnoni of Atholton HS, who received $2000 for her project entitled Examining Earth’s Natural Resources, and  Nancy Smith of Centennial HS who received $878 for her project Renewing Energy Resources. Both programs will purchase supplies and equipment that will allow students to do real world testing in order to gain better understanding of the complex issues involved.

The remaining projects will be funded from the proceeds of a grant awarded to Bright Minds by the Community Foundation of Howard County earlier this year specifically for this purpose.  Under the category of Information and Communications Technology Literacy, $2000 will go to teacher Carly Norris so that her kindergarten class at Deep Run Elementary can participate in the IPad Mini Kindergarten Classroom Lab, which will incorporate IPads in the classroom.  This program is designed to ensure that each student has the same opportunity to learn regardless of their level of access to technology at home.

Three projects will bring enhanced health initiatives to students, under  the Health and Wellness Awareness category:  Ross Chakrian of Waverly Elementary will receive $2000 to purchase heart monitors under his Heart to Heart Monitoring Program, which will allow students the opportunity to measure their heart rates at various times.  Principal Michelle Leader at Waterloo Elementary will receive $1800 for Try It Fridays, a program designed to present new foods to children to widen their experience of nutritional foods every month.  AT the Homewood Center, Suzanne McMurtray will have $2000 for PHIT, Putting Health in Today, a program intended to incorporate vigorous cardiovascular activity into students’ daily routine, including lessons in nutrition and hydration.

Finally, the remaining awarded projects are in the category of Global and Civic Awareness.  A grant of $2000 will go to Patricia Branner-Pierce, a specialist in the Black Student Achievement Program, to purchase keyboard equipment for the Piano for Youth Summer Music Theory and Math Camp, to be used to teach students who are part of the after school centers who wish to learn to play the piano.  Bonnie Branch Middle School Teacher Dawn Wrenn will receive $500 for Black Saga, a program that strengthens students’ awareness and knowledge about the African American experience through various media and activities.

Congratulations to our 2014 awardees!  We look forward to visiting your classrooms.


Grant History

2012/2013 Staff and Teachers Competency Grant Awards

 Bright Minds announces the awardees for the 2012 Staff and Teacher's Grants Program

Congratulations to the following staff members on being selected this year for the projects shown below! 

 Bright Minds wishes you the best and looks forward to visiting your classrooms to see your projects in action!


  2012/2013 Grant Recipients

      Awardee/Amount                 School                                                       Program                        

      Ann Bailey                              Wilde Lake HS                                         First Robotics
      Christopher Fox                     Atholton HS                                             First Robotics
      Tim Grafton and
      Nancy Cohen                         Mayfield Woods MS                              SMART technologies
     Rachelle Large*                     Patuxent Valley MS                               iProbe Weather Investigation
      Wendy McNeill                       Wilde Lake MS                                      NOOK Pilot
      Haley Carroll
      Emily Warner                                                                                
     Carrie Trudden                        Clarksville ES                                       Mimio Teach
*Also designated to receive the Dr. Sydney L. Cousin Legacy Award

Grant applications are written and awarded for projects that meet the Bright Minds mission and fall into one of the following 21st Century Competencies:

Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurship Literacy
Both personally and professionally, students will be responsible for making sophisticated economic and business choices. Students will need to know how to evaluate personal economic decisions, how the economy impacts society, and how to use entrepreneurial skills to enhance workplace productivity and career options.
Global & Civic Awareness
The world today is truly interconnected decisions, wherever they occur, often have local, regional, national or global impact. Americans live in increasingly diverse communities; many work for businesses involved in global commerce. Students need a deeper understanding of different cultures, countries and regions, and must learn to understand, analyze and participate in government and in the community, both locally and globally.
Health & Wellness Awareness
Over the past few generations the responsibility of managing one's health has shifted more and more to the individual, and at the same time the complexity and volume of health care information has increased exponentially. Students must be prepared to obtain, interpret and understand basic health information and services as well as know how to use such information and services in health enhancing ways.
Information & Communications Technology Literacy
The 21st century is an age of overflowing information and proliferating media. Two types of awards will be granted to support students' competencies in this area.
1.Students must learn to use appropriate technologies to process, analyze and present information efficiently and effectively.
2.All students, regardless of economic background, must have equal access to these essential technologies.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)
The lack of U.S. students prepared to enter the STEM workforce is limiting economic growth, and causing businesses to look globally to fill the void. Building a diverse pool of students interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is increasingly important to ensuring America's economic growth and national security.
Please Note:  Applications can only be filed during the solicitation period, which normally occurs in the fall.  Bright Minds will announce the opening of the application period on this website and by email through the HCPSS to its staff and will include a copy of the current application and instructions in the announcement.  At this time there are no funds available for projects outside of this application and grant period.