Wednesday, November 30, 2011

AISD Partners to be Recognized during 2011 State of the District

Thanks to Our Partners!
Thank you to our partners who help us achieve amazing success with our students, parents and families. Without the financial and volunteer support that you as our partners provide, we would not be able to continue to provide new delivery models, duplicate best practices, and accelerate effective programming. We appreciate those of you who have invested towards our district’s long-term success.
To Read more about our Funding Partners, visit our Funding Partners Page or our Website.

Our Partners will be recognized during this year's State of the District. Superintendent Meria Carstarphen invites AISD staff and the community to watch live as she presents the 2011 State of the District Address from the new McCallum Arts Center on November 30, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. 

Click here to Watch and Learn More about the State of the District Address

Monday, November 28, 2011

Graham Elementary School Garden with Whole Foods

The Office of Innovation and Development has been working to help Graham Elementary School with expanding their school garden - and it's growing! The local company, Whole Foods, have pitched in to help as well !

The following post is a re-post written originally by Nona Evans that can be found at

One of the most wonderful traditions within Whole Foods Market is that each of our teams are encouraged by our leaders to hold an annual team building event. More often than not, teams choose to include a community service component. Our company leaders are no exception; they truly practice what they preach!

Just last month the Global Vice Presidents from each department at our corporate office gathered for their own team build and they got their hands dirty. Literally. They spent their morning helping Austin’s Graham Elementary School turn their one-year-old set of eight raised garden beds into the school’s vision of a living classroom.

The work included assembling picnic tables, digging, installing drip irrigation in existing beds, weeding, creating two new limestone raised beds, digging, mulching walkways and digging. Lots of digging!

Graham Elementary is pretty special. A few years ago the school was rated “acceptable” by state standards. But with the creativity and passion of the school’s faculty, lead by principal Blaine Helwig, the school has celebrated an “exemplary” rating for the last three years! They intend to continue this progress by implementing experiential learning — like that of the living classroom.

What makes Graham’s garden tick is the fact that the entire community is a part of the effort. For example, a couple of years ago two local non-profits, the Sustainable Food Center and Marathon Kids, partnered with the school to create a wellness team made up of parents, teachers and community members. And all of these groups showed up to help out as this first stage of garden transformation took place.

According to master gardener Margaret Earnest, who insists she’s “just a volunteer,” the kids are learning all sorts of things in the garden including science and botany. “We just don’t tell them that,” she says. Margaret also leads the school’s 4th and 5th grade weekly after-school garden club which has a membership of over 50 kids this year! The day our group was there the club was releasing worms into the compost pile.

The garden at Graham is just one component of an even broader health effort at the school, which also features participation in Sustainable Food Center’s Sprouting Healthy Kids farm to school program and their Happy Kitchen cooking classes for parents. As well as Marathon Kids physical activity program – all led by members of the Graham school-community.

The formula for success developed at Graham can work for just about any school:
  • find a couple of people who have deep passion and expertise
  • find even more people who are willing to learn and support
  • create a vision, a plan and implement it in phases
  • believe in the genius of our children
  • unleash their spirit
Our hats off to Graham and their supporters for their commitment to their kids, to our Whole Foods Market leaders who (literally) dug in to this worthy cause in their community and to all the communities everywhere where school gardens are teaching life lessons. See how you can help school gardens grow by visiting the Whole Kids Foundation website.

Funding opportunity : Youth Action for Health Award - Due December 15th 2011

The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation has been a fantastic supporter of education and health in the Austin Community for several years.

Recently, The Michael & Susan Dell Community Collaborative for Child Health (part of the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living) have released a Request for Proposals for a youth-led wellness initiative.

This funding opportunity is focused on empowering youth to take a leadership role in the development and implementation of a health initiative in their choice. For this opportunity, it is important for youth to link up and collaborate work with community and adult mentors.
For more information and to read the guidelines, visit

The Rundown on this Funding Opportunity:
  • Up to $1000 stipend awarded to student-mentor pairs to implement a youth-led wellness initiative
  • Any middle school student and adult mentor pair is eligible to apply as long as the student attends middle school .
  • Preference will be given to those proposals which feature partnership between youth and a community organization which promotes health and wellness.  
Proposals are due December 15, 2011.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

2011-2012 HEB Excellence in Education Awards

The Office of Innovation and Development is thrilled to share with the Austin Schools community an amazing grant opportunity that our local grocer, H-E-B has offered for the past several years : the H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards !

What makes these Education Awards special is the recognition H-E-B lends to our education system and community here in Texas. H-E-B wants to celebrate our public school professionals who are dedicated to the learning excellence of our students. This year, they are awarding over $700,000 to schools all across Texas.

Take a look at Last Year's Finalists and give a Hoorah to the outstanding staff and campuses who won recognition funds ranging from $1,000-$10,000.

Do you know someone who is an outstanding educator? Participate now by nominating your favorite teacher, principal or district, or pat yourself on the back and register yourself! Check out the categories below for more information or here at H-E-B's Community Involvement website. Note: Nominations should be turned in early enough to allow the nominee to fill out application.

Teaching Award Categories, Deadline: January 6, 2012

  • Rising Star Award: Less than 10 years of classroom experience. One elementary and one secondary teacher will each receive a $5,000 cash prize plus a $5,000 grant for his/her school.
  • Leadership Award: 10 to 20 years of classroom experience. One elementary and one secondary teacher will each receive a $10,000 cash prize plus a $10,000 grant for his/her school.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award: More than 20 years of classroom experience. One elementary and one secondary teacher will each receive a $25,000 cash prize plus a $25,000 grant for his/her school.
  • 30 regional finalists will be awarded $1,000 each plus $1,000 for their schools.
Principal Award Categories, Deadline: January 6, 2012

  • One elementary school and one secondary school principal will each receive a $10,000 cash prize plus a $25,000 grant for each of their schools.
  • A total of 10 regional finalists will be awarded $1,000 each plus $2,500 for their schools.

District Award Categories, Deadline: January 6, 2012

  • One large school district (4A and 5A) will receive $100,000 and one small school district (1A, 2A, and 3A) will receive $50,000.
  • Five regional large district finalists will be awarded $5,000 each and three regional small district finalists will be awarded $2,500 each.

Early Childhood Award
The H-E-B Excellence in Education Early Childhood Award is designed to support public or private schools or not-for-profit learning agencies that focus on the care and education of children under the age of five. The purpose of the award is to offer support to help create or enhance Kinder Readiness programs that prepare children to enter Kindergarten socially and academically ready to learn. The 5 regional finalists will each be presented with a check for $5,000 to apply towards the enhancement of existing Kinder Readiness activities or creating new programs for the target population. The overall state winner will be announced and awarded an additional $25,000 grant to apply towards enhancing existing Kinder Readiness programs or creating a new program for the target population. Please complete all applications by January 6, 2012. 

Healthy Campus Grant [PAST DEADLINE]
The H-E-B Excellence in Education Healthy Campus grant is designed to assist school campuses with resources and funding to increase health and nutrition education for their students. Grant monies are awarded to develop, implement and imporve activities and programs centered around the three pillars of H-E-B's statewide health improvement effort: Food, Body and Life. Twelve schools will be selected to receive a $15,000 grant that's paid out over three years. Please complete all applications by November 11, 2011.