Students and teachers have entered the start of a new school year, and for many educators that means they’re spending their own hard-earned paycheck on school supplies for which they won’t be reimbursed.
Supporting education — not just the students, but the teachers — is important for building strong communities and the key to great futures for children. And one of the most fun ways Unum has shown its support to teachers and students is through the Strong Schools Grants program.
Created in 2009, Unum has awarded more than $725,000 in small grants to local teachers who demonstrate effective and creative ways to engage students and improve their learning and achievement levels.
“We receive applications from teachers who want to introduce creative programs and lessons to get the best out of their students,” said Cary Olson Cartwright, assistant vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility at Unum. “We know resources are limited, and these grants help complement funding from schools. Through the grant program, we’re able to help talented educators engage students in innovative and creative approaches to learning by providing funding directly into classrooms.”
Each year, teachers apply to receive grants of up to $1,000 to purchase equipment and resources that support and celebrate effective, creative teaching initiatives, with special emphasis on integrating career preparation with academic content.
With past funding, Suzette Brunson, a science teacher in the Lexington School District Two in Columbia, South Carolina, was able to take her students from doing science experiments on a computer into a hands-on science lab. This year, her students will learn how organisms coexist in ecosystems.
“We’re going to learn more about rivers and how different things impact others — like when one animal disappears, what happens to our food chains?” Brunson said.
Other classroom projects awarded funding ranged from purchasing supplies to build robots, rockets, video games and weather instruments to creating calming sensory rooms to help students with anxiety, grief, stress, anger or exhaustion.
“Supporting education is a pillar of who we are as a community leader and our corporate social responsibility,” Olson Cartwright said. “With the help of our employees, we’re committed to supporting today’s students and educators with the tools needed to thrive in a 21st century workforce.”
Public education is one of Unum’s main areas of focus for charitable giving. Learn more here.