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Western Governors University awards more than $18,000 in grants to Illinois K-12 teachers

An $800 grant from Western Governors University’s “Fund My Classroom” initiative was recently presented to educator Courtney Jewell that will be used to create a vocational training center that will enable high school special education students at Pathways School in Belleville to learn vocational skills needed for future employment. (Courtesy WGU)


Grants awarded will help fund 22 classroom projects that aim to enhance learning and enrich the lives of students in districts throughout the state

Western Governors University (WGU) has announced it has awarded $18,366 in grant funding to teachers across the state, funding their innovative classroom projects that foster learning in new, unique ways. The grants are made possible through WGU’s “Fund My Classroom” initiative, and a total of 22 classroom projects in Illinois were selected for funding.

The funding will go toward making several K-12 classrooms a more engaging environment for students when they return to school this fall. A sampling of grants awarded include the following:

  • An $800 grant, used to create a vocational training center that will enable high school special education students at Pathways School in Belleville to learn vocational skills needed for future employment.
  • Matching grants of $3,178 each to purchase two class sets of 15 Sphero BOLT robots and a Sphero Code Mat, allowing teachers in the fourth and fifth grade classrooms at Liberty Elementary School in Orland Park to teach coding and robotics to their students.
  • An 1,800 grant, used to create a calming corner and add flexible seating options to a kindergarten classroom at Oregon Elementary School in Oregon. Items purchased with the grant include four wobble stools, four accordion stools, four exercise balls, a set of stackable stools, two beanbag chairs, social-emotional and feelings posters, fidgets and a dry erase board.
  • A $780 grant, used to provide new flags for the color guard team at Urbana High School in Urbana.
  • A $750 grant, used to purchase nine disc golf baskets and targets to create a disc golf unit for over 400 physical education students in grades K through 5 at Illini Bluffs Elementary School in Glasford.
  • A $535 grant, used to purchase a new whiteboard table for a second-grade classroom at Mable Woolsey Elementary School in Knoxville.
  • A $450 grant, used to purchase social-emotional reading materials, fidgets, weighted blankets and vests, sensory toys and visual aids for students meeting with the school counselor at Unity Elementary School in Mendon.
  • A $300 grant, used to purchase a classroom set of Kendamas –  Japanese skill toys that can improve hand-eye coordination, balance, reflex, growth, mindset and focus – for a fourth-grade classroom at John Mills Elementary School in Elmwood Park.
  • A $110 grant, used to purchase a classroom model bridge kit that will allow junior high science students in DePue Unit School District #103 in Bureau County to design and construct wooden bridges and study their durability and efficiency.

WGU issued a call in March for K-12 teachers to submit their project ideas on the university’s website by April 14 for the opportunity to receive full or partial funding. Most grants were awarded during Teacher Appreciation Week, which ran May 8-12.

“We received so many great nominations this year, and we are thrilled to be able to fund dozens of innovative projects that will play a role in setting up our children for success later in life,” said Dr. Terrance Hopson, regional vice president of Western Governors University. “K-12 teachers are often limited by the costs associated with providing impactful educational learning and end up spending money out of their own pockets. The ‘Fund My Classroom’ initiative is an opportunity for us to help make a difference in classrooms across the state and show appreciation for our teachers, who work tirelessly to educate young minds.”

To learn more about the “Fund My Classroom” initiative and the work WGU is doing to help teachers advance their careers, visit

About WGU  

Established in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors with a mission to expand access to high-quality, affordable higher education, online, nonprofit WGU now serves more than 140,000 students nationwide and has more than 300,000 graduates in all 50 states. Driving innovation as the nation’s leading competency-based university, WGU has been recognized by the White House, state leaders, employers, and students as a model that works in postsecondary education. In just 25 years, the university has become a leading influence in changing the lives of individuals and families, and preparing the workforce needed in today’s rapidly evolving economy. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, and has been featured on NPR, NBC Nightly News, CNN, and in The New York Times. Learn more at  

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