A successful grant application will allow the Iowa Falls Education Association the opportunity to help as many as 20 families in need during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Heather Chamberlain, a science teacher at Iowa Falls-Alden High School, also serves as treasurer for the IFEA. On behalf of the group, she applied for a community outreach grant through the Iowa State Education Association.
Chamberlain said the IFEA learned last week that it has received the full $500 grant award.
The plan is to distribute 20 Hy-Vee gift cards to families in need during the current COVID-19 crisis.
"I decided to call the project 'Together We Can.' In the grant application, I described a partnership with our local school counselors, at-risk teams and school nurses. To identify communities that are in need of assistance right now with items such as food," Chamberlain said. "In order to reach as many families as possible, that would be $25 gift cards to 20 different families."
The IFEA membership includes about one-third of the district's staff (36 teachers). It is partnering with district employees who work with at-risk families. Chamberlain said those employees will determine who receives the gift cards. The education association meets once per month with a goal of upholding professional teaching standards.
Chamberlain said the IFEA helps negotiate contracts on behalf of the district staff, holds informational sessions for district employees, and supports members to make sure they are receiving professional learning opportunities.
The Hy-Vee gift cards will be distributed soon, according to Chamberlain. She said IFEA members will give the cards through the mail with a personalized card, or drop them off at homes using proper social distancing.
There is already another item on the IFEA's "to-do" list.
"The feedback from the staff is that many families are struggling right now. We (IFEA), plan to reach out to all district employees to find out how they are doing during this pandemic and create action plans for any families in need who are district employees," Chamberlain said. "Anything we can do to help during this tough time."