Tonawanda News — Money — which goes 100 percent to the grants fund — is raised through donations and the annual Summerfest fundraiser, which will take place this year July 13. Last year, Ryan’s Runners raised money through the Mighty Niagara half-marathon.
The grants are open to public or private schools at the elementary level. Funds provided have purchased countless instruments for student use, updated sound and light systems at schools, initiated dance programs and tied into music-related projects with components of geography, science and social studies, among many other uses.
“If a teacher can connect it, we’ll fund it,” George said. “It’s been very rewarding in terms of seeing what the kids and their teachers have been able to do, and knowing that they wouldn’t be able to do this without the funding.”
With school district budgets being so tight right now, he said, “It’s the non-core arts that suffer. It’s painful to see music and art departments reduced in size, the supplies are reduced.”
Gregory Woytila, superintendent of schools in North Tonawanda, said the foundation has helped in many respects, including the addition of instruments for children who might not be able to afford or rent them.
“We are lucky enough to have a stock here now, which really gets a lot of kids to develop a skill and talent that maybe they wouldn’t be able to develop due to the price tag,” said Woytila, who wrote a grant himself for display boards and picture frames for the ongoing student art show at administration building.
“As it grows each year, I see the applications ... expanding and getting more creative,” he said. “It’s definitely benefiting the children for a long time to come and we’re very appreciative of it.”
April Carere, a musical teacher at Meadow Elementary School, been writing grants “since day one,” George said. Carere said that it started with the idea to purchase instruments and took off from there.