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Grants added! seven recipients receive inspired learning grant recognition

Inspired by the outpouring of community support and educator enthusiasm for the Inspired Learning grants, The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo went beyond its initial plans and announced four grants and three honorable mention recognition's for local educators.

“While the Inspired Learning grants program was designed to award four grants, there were many worthy ideas,” says Amy Slancik, Director of The Learning Network. “We added three additional grants and wish we could have done even more! The enthusiasm around the submissions was fantastic. From the educators who made the submissions, to the thousands of people in the community who voted on them, to the local leaders who helped select the recipients – there’s powerful commitment in Kalamazoo County to innovative learning ideas.”

“In light of this commitment,” Slancik says, “the decision was made to go beyond the planned four grants and award three honorable mention recognition's, which come with a $500 grant.”


Following the final judging session by a panel of Kalamazoo County community leaders, these innovative learning ideas are being recognized:

  • 1st Place Winner of $8,000: Jamie Leigh for the purchase of Chromebooks at Maple Street Magnet School.
  • 2nd Place Winner of $6,000: Dania Bazzi for the Reading Bus at Galesburg-Augusta Community Schools.
  • 3rd Place Winner of $4,000: Cindy Kohl for the purchase of a 3-D printer at Schoolcraft Elementary.
  • 4th Place Winner of $2,000: Chris Chopp for the purchase of iPads at Comstock STEM Academy.
  • Honorable Mention Winner of $500: Cherise Ward for the purchase of encouragement journals and college wear at Arcadia Elementary.
  • Honorable Mention Winner of $500: Paul Bauer for music lessons and instruments at Kids in Tune.
  • Honorable Mention Winner of $500: Susan Caswell for their “Leader in Me” program at Green Meadow Elementary


The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo kicked off the Inspired Learning grants program in August to empower community educators to launch innovative learning ideas. Four grants ranging from $2,000 to $8,000 were offered to Kalamazoo County teachers, volunteers or other educators who work with kids and want to inspire them with an innovative learning program.

To apply, educators simply needed to upload to the program’s Facebook page ( a short video explaining their idea. From October 5 through October 23, people could visit the page to vote for their favorite videos. Voting narrowed the submissions down to the top 12 videos. Next, the panel of community leaders from Kalamazoo County selected the final recipients of the grants.

There were 26 submissions for grants and more than 9,000 votes were cast by the community. Ultimately, four recipients received grants ranging from $2,000 to $8,000 and three honorable mentions received a $500 grant.


The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo brings community together to increase cradle-to-career educational success for everyone in Kalamazoo County. We track key education measures, facilitate action networks that drive educational readiness and adult learning, and rally resources and support for improved learning.