At the Needham School Committee meeting on February 23, 2021, Superintendent Daniel E. Gutekanst recognized the Needham Education Foundation (NEF) for its $296,624 grant to Needham Public Schools (NPS). The funding will support the district’s new initiative to expand in-person learning for kindergarten, first, and second grade students for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.
The NEF grant will be used to cover the costs of bringing students in grades K, 1, and 2 back into the school buildings full-time, four days each week. Specifically, the grant will support the hiring of nine new teachers so that additional sections for grades K-2 can be added to accommodate small class sizes and physical distancing safety protocols. All five of Needham’s elementary schools will benefit from the NEF funding, which provides the youngest students the in-person attention required to help them grow and achieve.
According to Dr. Gutekanst, “This unprecedented and exceptional grant from the NEF will allow us to bring back to school our most vulnerable and youngest learners who will benefit from the consistent care and attention they deserve and need from their teachers. As always, the NEF’s commitment to this community’s young people is unique and underscores the value that all of us place in education.” He added, “We are deeply indebted to the NEF Board for having the resources and the vision to think creatively and in partnership with the schools during these challenging times to prioritize the needs of our youngest learners.”
This extraordinary grant, the largest in NEF’s 30-year history, is being awarded outside of NEF’s typical three yearly competitive grant cycles. Under the current circumstances, expanded in-person learning for K-2 students advances the NEF’s mission to promote innovation and excellence in education. The NEF is happy to support the district and the community in making an impact on Needham’s youngest learners.
NEF Co-President Seema Meloni shared, “The NEF is honored and extremely proud to fund this important grant request. After being approached as a potential funding source and ensuring all appropriate negotiations regarding the new plans to support young learners were completed, our Board moved forward with a decision to provide financial support for this critical initiative on behalf of our donors and supporters.” Co-President Maggie Shapiro added that the NEF is “excited to see the effect this grant will have on Needham’s youngest learners. We hope that this donation provides flexibility for the district to use budgeted funds for other important school-based needs.”
Thanks to the generosity of NEF donors, Needham’s K-2 students will have the opportunity to establish deeper relationships with their teachers and classmates, further develop their skills, and increase confidence in their learning.
See below for an interview with Co-Presidents Seema Meloni and Maggie Shapiro on the Needham Channel.