Excellence and Equity highlighted at 2017 Grants Award Luncheon

Recipients of 43 grants honored at 2017 event

More than 200 community members and School District of La Crosse employees came together in a celebration of public schools at the annual Grants Award Luncheon hosted by the La Crosse Public Education Foundation.

Festival Logo - high resolution jpg formatThe luncheon — presented by Festival Foods — celebrates teachers, staff, students and community members whose grant requests provide examples of the kind of creativity and dedication seen every day in the School District of La Crosse.

In all, nearly 70 teachers and other grant recipients were recognized during the event on Jan. 16, 2017, which also saluted three special award winners:

  • Corporate Partner in Education — Festival Foods and Dave and Barb Skogen
  • Leadership Award — Annette O’Hern, the District’s supervisor of Career and Choice Education
  • Distinguished Service Award — Gregory Bonney, former LPEF Board president and an attorney at Johns, Flaherty & Collins


For more information on the special award winners, please see: Celebrating our volunteers and partners.

Sponsor logosVIEW PHOTO GALLERY from the 2017 Grants Award Luncheon, with photography by Diane Gebhart.

Grant recipients honored came primarily from two rounds of grants announced last year by the Foundation. (View a PDF presentation of all grant recipients and award winners honored at the luncheon.)

Superintendent Randy Nelson was the featured speaker, talking about equity issues in our schools.

Randy Nelson says the work being done by teachers and staff in our schools “is nothing short of heroic.” (Photo by Diane Gebhart)

Superintendent of Schools Randy Nelson was the featured speaker, talking about the need for the District to address systemic issues with inequities in our schools — and in our community. “Our schools are reflected in our community, and our community is reflected in our schools,” Nelson said.

Many families are struggling to provide children with the quality family time and support to be successful in school, and in life. “When your family is in survival mode, attending school is not always a high priority,” Nelson said, crediting teachers and other District employees with working hard to overcome major obstacles to student success.

Nelson explained some of the District’s efforts to develop new approaches, including last summer’s Equity Institute training that included more than 200 teachers and administrators.

He said the District is looking inward, examining past practices that may have inhibited students even though the programs were designed to help. Nelson acknowledged his own shortcomings, asking the staff “to take a journey with me,” to examine their own biases, and the expectations they have for students.

And Nelson said the District would look outward to the community for help in creating “a community and a school culture where everyone is afforded an opportunity,” regardless of gender, ethnic and other differences.

“We’re all in this together,” Nelson said.

The La Crosse Public Education Foundation has been supporting La Crosse public schools for more than 28 years. The Foundation provides classroom grants, staff development money and other support for students – funding programs and projects that are not covered by tax-dollars. In all, the Foundation expects to provide more than $150,000 in support this year to the School District of La Crosse.

The Foundation’s work would not be possible without the generous support of many people, including these luncheon sponsors:

  • Presenting sponsor: Festival Foods.
  • Named Grant Sponsors: Coulee Bank; Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare; Trust Point; LHI; Gundersen Health System;  and Rachel Gundersen.
  • Corporate Investors/Named Grant Sponsors: Wells Fargo, State Bank Financial; and Altra Federal Credit Union.
  • Other Corporate Investors: First Supply/Gerhards; and The Insurance Center.
  • Grant Sponsors: Borton Construction; Dairyland Power Cooperative; Kaplan Professional Education; Xcel Energy; and News 8 WKBT.
  • Table Sponsors: Association of La Crosse School Administrators; Board of Education, School District of La Crosse; Johns, Flaherty & Collins; La Crosse Education Association; Fowler & Hammer; UW-La Crosse/UW-L Foundation; and Viterbo University.
  • Teacher Sponsor: WIPFLI LLP; Clason Buick GMC; and GO Riteway.