Grants Awarded by the Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) Enable Investigative, Creative Learning Across the District

Arlington Public School students will be involved in a range of creative and stimulating learning activities in the future thanks to the most recent grants awarded by the Arlington Education Foundation. The 11 grants fall into two categories–Innovations in Education and Development and Expansion–and together account for a gift of $59,580. 


The nine Innovations in Education Grants span grade levels and topics. The funded projects will involve students of all ages, advance ongoing work in equity and diversity, and embrace engaging teaching methods in disciplines that include the performing arts, STEAM, English language arts, and journalism.

  • Backyard Youth Theater  provides the funding for Thompson Elementary School Kindergarten students to participate in four sessions of theater games, and second grade students to participate in a Let Your Imaginations Run Wild Youth Creative Theatre Arts Workshop offered by Backyard Youth Theatre that results in the performance of a play. These experiences expand the drama program to the younger students in the school, promoting understanding of identity, focus, team building, and creativity and will help to develop acting skills through participation in voice, movement, stagecraft, and confidence building exercises.
  • Empowering Student Voices Through Culturally Responsive Interdisciplinary Problem Solving with Micro-bits enables the APS Digital Learning team to collaborate with the Lesley University STEAM Learning Lab and create 10 curriculum modules that are culturally responsive and engage students in hands-on interdisciplinary learning. Each elementary school will receive a Learning Kit and curriculum modules binder with 10 interdisciplinary problem-solving challenges, lessons, and resources, as well as 10 programmable BBC micro:bit devices for student use.

  • Peirce Elementary School Engineering Makerspace provides the funding for makerspace materials and books that support science and design concepts. These will be used primarily by Kindergarten through second grade students in a setting that combines library standards with those of science and engineering, providing a hands-on learning experience that requires critical thinking, collaborating, and creating. The materials may also be used by classroom teachers in grades three through five to provide a hands-on experience that supplements their curriculum. 

  • Lego® SPIKE™ Sets for STEAM Enrichment and Social Emotional Learning will bring a Lego Education SPIKE Essential Class Pack that serves 30 students to Hardy Elementary School. The Pack includes lesson plans to supplement STEAM instruction in small-group, hands-on, investigative learning in grades one through five in a makerspace environment. It will also be used by individual counselors and Special Education staff to develop skills in social interaction, taking turns, sharing, and collaborative problem solving.

  • Multicultural Concert Series expands the musical experience for APS students and community members by bringing in three to four ensembles representing diverse cultures such as Latin American, East Asian. and Indigenous. The groups will each do one or two workshops with AHS students and provide a concert that is open to the public, providing a sense of belonging to community members from different cultures and exposing participants to music beyond Western Classical.
  • Quest VR Experiential Learning in English Language Arts enables the purchase of five Meta Quest 3 VR headsets with educationally appropriate games that directly align with the new EL Education curriculum for use in the second grade at the Dallin Elementary School. The immersive nature of Virtual Reality technology will foster deeper engagement, comprehension, creativity, and critical thinking skills, and provide experiential learning opportunities across disciplines.
  • Reading Across America Monthly Books provides the funding for the Thompson Elementary School Diversity & Inclusion Group (DIG) to bring in 32 additional diverse books every month to be distributed between all the Kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms, the two social work rooms, the school administrators, and the two DIG Little Libraries. Associated online teaching resources which accompany each themed book will aid in helping staff engage their students with the books at a deeper level.

  • Bridge Project funding will enable the purchase of three VASCO V4 translator devices for Arlington High School that will meet at least three immediate needs: facilitate tutoring sessions in the Bridge Project between English-speaking high school students and elementary students still in the early stages of learning English; facilitate fluid conversations during tours given by school counseling staff; and improve communication about the test administered by the Multilingual Learners department on a student’s first day. 

  • The Pondercast Announcements/News Show grant supports the development and execution of a weekly announcements and newscast show at Arlington High School that will be an engaging source of important and reliable information. Pondercast Club members will gather, record, and present various happenings and issues, producing the show in various locations in the new building and collaborating with various departments, clubs, and teachers as they hone their skills in research, outreach, and interviewing.

The Development and Expansion Grants support two different curricula, with one supplementing the new EL Education in grades Kindergarten through six and one updating Visual Arts at Arlington High School.

  • Books to Enhance Literacy funds the purchase of decodable texts and audiobooks for grades Kindergarten through six that make it possible for students to hear the pronunciation of text and provides texts for struggling readers, such as those with dyslexia. The books will be distributed to Bishop, Brackett, Dallin, Hardy, Peirce, and Thompson Elementary Schools and the Gibbs sixth grade school.  (A previous grant provided these to Stratton Elementary School.)

  • Building a 21st Century Visual Arts Program enables the expansion of the Digital Photography program and the establishment of Animation and Filmmaking at Arlington High School, bringing the department of Visual Arts up to current standards and allowing for the development of Open Studios and interdisciplinary collaboration.