Education grants boost climate change carnival, anti-racism work

Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

AMHERST — A climate change carnival for middle school students, trainings on undoing racism for elementary school teachers and expansion of a school garden program are among projects being supported by the Amherst Education Foundation.

The foundation recently announced its Excellence Grants, totaling $26,845, for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The foundation’s mission is to support public schools by providing enriching and challenging educational experience for all students, says co-president Youssef Fadel.

“We are excited to see what our talented educators do with these innovative programs and initiatives,” Fadel said.

Kerrita K. Mayfield is receiving $4,050 for the climate change carnival, in which middle school students will be able to present the problems of global climate disruption, create possible solutions to the crisis, participate in hands-on workshops, and hear from experts in climate change work.

Ruth Killough-Hill is getting $5,100 for expanding the number of teachers who can attend training on undoing racism and develop curriculum with alternative histories featuring marginalized voices at Fort River, Crocker Farm and Wildwood elementary schools. 

Jennifer Reese is receiving $8,450 to sustainably expand the garden programs at the elementary schools, including providing professional development to teachers for the garden curriculum, and piloting a summer intern program.

Finally, Todd Fruth is getting $3,500 to provide real-life experience and skill sets to students considering music production as a career path through the use of Logic Pro X software; and Brenda Crowley is receiving $5,745 for a readers theater curriculum library at Crocker Farm, where students will be able to work together in small groups to present short theater performances to their peers.

Electrify Amherst! returns

Artists are being sought for the third Electrify Amherst! project in which electrical boxes are made over.

The Amherst Public Art Commission, the Amherst Cultural Council and the Amherst Center Cultural District are inviting artists to create unique and imaginative paintings on utility boxes in one of three village areas in Amherst.

Public Art Commission member Amy Crawley said the program builds upon the success of the past two summers.

“It has proven to be a great way for artists and the Amherst community to connect, and continues Amherst’s growth as a public art community,” Crawley said.

Three selected artists will receive a stipend of $500 each.  Artists can submit proposals for Electrify Amherst! The Electrical Box Makeover Project 2020 until Aug. 1. The three selected artists will be determined by a five-person jury.

Unlike the six boxes painted in previous years throughout downtown, these three utility boxes are located in the village center areas of Amherst.

Artists interested in submitting a proposal should visit amherstma.gov/electrifyamherst or send email to ElectrifyAmherst@amyacrawley.com

The Artist Contest

The Amherst Center Cultural District is announcing COVID-19: The Artist Contest, in which funds from the Massachusetts Cultural Council will go directly to artists.

Artists in various categories, including two-dimensional art, sculpture and installation and poetry and writing, can submit an application, available on the Amherst Center Cultural District webpage at amherstcenterculturaldistrict.org

The winners will be displayed on the webpage as a virtual exhibit with a future public event. There will be one grand prize winner at $375 and first prizes in five categories at $250 each.

Entries from underrepresented communities, including people of color, LGBTQ+, disabled and others, are encouraged. 

ValleyBike Share returns

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed its start, the program with all electric-assist bikes is back running in select locations in Amherst and on the University of Massachusetts campus, and in several other communities.

ValleyBike Share has more than 40,000 active members and was ridden more than 280,000 miles through 126,940 trips last year.