Affinity Plus Foundation awards $10,000 in Cultivator Grants to Minnesota educators

ST. PAUL, Minn. (Aug. 7, 2018) – The Affinity Plus Foundation has announced the recipients of its 2018 Cultivator Grants.

The foundation awarded 10 grants of $1,000 each to elementary, middle- and high-school teachers across Minnesota to support their unique educational opportunities focused on making positive impacts on Minnesota communities.

Cultivator Grants support programming that emphasizes citizenship; community involvement; financial education; volunteerism; ethics; and respect.

“Both as a foundation and a credit union, Affinity Plus understand the importance of strengthening Minnesota communities and families,” said Kristina Wright, Foundation board chair and Affinity Plus senior vice president of Member Experience.

“Affinity Plus’ core values of caring, excellence and integrity guide our activities and grant-making,” Wright said. “In addition, we believe that by investing in teachers, there’s a multiplying effect – the foundation’s impact can compound because educators touch the lives of so many students and families.”

The foundation’s 2018 Cultivator Grant educators and schools are listed below:

• Eric Bartosh, Valley Middle School, Apple Valley, Minn.

Bartosh of Valley Middle School sees a lack of financial education and instruction in K-12 curriculum. Through use of the Stock Market Game, he hopes to teach his 7th grade students investing basics, as well as confidence in managing their finances. The use of this curriculum will support VMS’s “Student Leadership Process” to reinforce connections between personal finance, volunteerism and community outreach.

• Matthew Brandt, Park Rapids High School, Park Rapids, Minn.
At Park Rapids High School, Brandt is working to implement a program called the Practical Assessment Exploration System. It utilizes hands-on, direct instruction to teach job skills to students with special needs. The program focuses on five main areas, including computer technology; construction/industrial; process/production; consumer/service; and business/marketing.

• Lori Dornburg, Sartell Middle School, Sartell, Minn.
As an FACS (Family and Consumer Science) teacher, Dornburg orchestrates many opportunities for students to participate in community service. Sartell Middle School has six programs that support nursing homes; food shelves; women’s shelters; hospice programs; halfway houses; public libraries; and more.

• Beata Grantier, Paul Bunyan Elementary, Bemidji, Minn.
As an Early Childhood Education Specialist, Grantier strives to empower parents and build their capacity to invest in their child's education from birth. She uses the “Growing Brain” curriculum to encourage parents in the first five years of their child’s life and educate them how to build healthy brains.

• Nancy Joa, Pullman Elementary, St. Paul Park, Minn.
Joa is building communities and relationships through the Intergenerational Interaction Project. This program partners kindergarten students with elderly people five times per year to interact and learn from one another through games, connections and conversations. The students will have the opportunity to develop their social and emotional skills through these interactions.

• Kristi Person, Lionsgate Academy, Minnetonka, Minn.
Providing foundational education and real-world skills is the focus of Person’s unique programming for students on the autism spectrum. As a business teacher, she aims to teach life skills through a school store and student-run coffee shop.

• Heather Redinger, Friendship Academy of the Arts, Minneapolis, Minn.
Through unique programming at Friendship Academy of the Arts that incorporates projects, community art events, and local artists, Redinger will demonstrate the importance of being an impactful member of society. Students will have the opportunity to work with local artists to learn, share life experiences, explore art and become contributing members of society.

• Greg Spanier, Cold Spring Elementary School, Cold Spring, Minn.
Home-grown values are the focus of Spanier’s unique educational platform at Cold Spring Elementary School. His 4th grade students cultivate the school’s community garden, where they learn not only about horticulture, but how the food they grow supports the local food shelf and the school.

• Ruth Tatter, Edna Murphy Elementary, Grand Rapids, Minn.
At Edna Murphy Elementary, Tatter’s school garden project allows for students to be directly involved in improving the community surrounding their school. Students work alongside neighbors to tend the garden, allowing them to experience being part of something bigger while also learning about nutrition and healthy eating. Not only does the school garden support the local food bank, it also plans to add a composting component to its program next year to teach students about food waste and environmental impacts.

• Heather Tran, A Better Society Project, Chanhassen, Minn.

Project Impact is a program created by A Better Society to be an online resource for families; teachers; schools; youth service organizations, and communities. Project Impact will help all successfully develop meaningful service projects with authentic local and global needs. This comprehensive program provides community members of all ages with the knowledge, tools and support to successfully complete their own service projects and impact causes they’re passionate about. Project Impact provides students with a framework to carry out service projects with increasing independence as they grow through their school years and eventually becoming adult contributors to society.

ABOUT THE AFFINITY PLUS FOUNDATION
The Affinity Plus Foundation is a 501(c)(3) serving Minnesota communities. Established in 2000, the Foundation administers its own scholarship program, awards grants to non-profit groups and schools and supports financial education initiatives through partnerships, presentations and resources.

The foundation aligns with the credit union by supporting the people, businesses and relationships in Minnesota communities and surrounding regions where Affinity Plus has 28 branches and three call centers.

For more information about the foundation, or to support its efforts, please visit affinityplusfoundation.org.