Latest LPEF grants offer $41,800 to improve reading skills, promote space exploration and more

LPEF grants support virtual and blended learning as pandemic impacts La Crosse schools

Racial justice training, diverse books and classroom materials funded through $26,400 in LPEF grants

The La Crosse Public Education Foundation provides an opportunity twice each year for School District staff and others to apply for a Gold Star Grant. The general classroom grants support innovation and proven practices, and LPEF strongly encourages applications for projects, materials or training to promote equity, diversity and inclusion in schools. In addition,  LPEF offers specific grants for: staff development; arts and humanities; physical fitness, servant leadership or character development; music education; training related to International Baccalaureate programs; and for projects exposing students to the benefits of being in nature. (See more details below on grant types.)

Applications may be submitted by any teacher, staff member, parent or student in the School District of La Crosse, or by a nonprofit organization with a demonstrated link or partnership with a school in the District.

LPEF favors grant projects that:

  • Demonstrate educational innovation
  • Promote original, creative ideas
  • Focus on content enrichment and skills development
  • Are not supported through normal school budgets
  • Have measurable indicators of success
  • Address one or more district academic standards
  • Show collaboration within the district or community

Requests may be for any amount, and while amounts vary, the average grant is about $1,500. Applicants are encouraged to contact LPEF staff before applying for more than $7,500. NEW THIS YEAR: For grant requests greater than $5,000, applicants must identify other pledged or potential sources of funding, or explain in the project summary why no other funding is available.

2021-2022 Application Deadlines

First-round applications are due – Monday, Oct. 25, 2021 at 4 p.m.

Second-round applications are due – Monday, Feb. 28, 2022 at 4 p.m.

Single-document application forms

LPEF is now using a single-document application form for Gold Star Grant requests.

For School District of La Crosse employees and anyone with a Google account — Link to this Google Doc
NOTE: You will begin by making a copy of the document into your own Google folder.

Other applicants, including organizations outside the School District of La Crosse — Use this Word Document
NOTE: You will begin by downloading a copy of the document to your computer.


Before submitting an application, PLEASE READ THE INSTRUCTIONS listed on the first page of the application form (with more details on the last page). This includes information on getting approvals from appropriate District supervisors for all applications.

Final documents — in PDF format — should be submitted via email to:

If you need assistance, please contact Nell Saunders-Scott by email or by calling the office at (608) 787-0226.

For more information, including links to lists of recent grants, visit our Awarded Grants page.

Guidelines & restrictions

  • Applicants who have previously received LPEF grant funding must complete required Grant Follow-up Report before new funding is approved.
  • Approval by the appropriate curriculum supervisor is required, in addition to the school principal.
  • Any proposed software or hardware must have the written approval of SDL’s Tech Services before the grant request is submitted.
  • Grant award amounts vary. Larger grants are generally awarded for projects that involve multiple classrooms, cross disciplines, or involve more than one school.
  • LPEF favors requests where some funding is coming from another source, such as the school principal or PTO.
  • NEW THIS YEAR: For grant requests of greater than $5,000, applicants must identify other pledged or potential sources of funding, or explain why no other funding is available.
  • LPEF does not reimburse for previously incurred expenses.
  • LPEF typically provides seed money for creative projects and is not intended for ongoing funding.
  • LPEF places a lower priority on funding: classroom furniture, computer software and digital subscriptions (particularly beyond one year), classroom sets of books, food, and transportation.
  • LPEF does not provide funding for staff salaries (substitute teachers).
  • Grant awards are paid to the School District of La Crosse or to another nonprofit entity. District grantees must follow normal District purchasing procedures. Others must track expenses and save receipts. Any unused funding ($20 or more) must be returned to LPEF as outlined in the Grant Acceptance Report.
  • Grant recipients are required to complete a Grant Follow Up Report when the project is completed.

Who is eligible?

  • Teachers, staff, parents and students in the School District of La Crosse
  • Other nonprofit organizations with a demonstrated link or partnership with a school in the School District of La Crosse

How are applications judged?

LPEF’s Grants Committee rates applications on several key criteria, including:

  • Clear need, objectives and measurable outcomes
  • Realistic implementation plan/timeline with clearly defined accountability
  • Innovation and creativity
  • Collaboration – within a school, within the District or with the larger community
  • Sustainability and Impact – the number of students or staff involved and/or the duration
  • Visibility/publicity for LPEF

Final decisions reflect the committee’s consensus view of which applications deserve a share of limited funding available.

Grant Categories

Applicants are asked to indicate the type of grant that is being sought. Applicants who are unsure should simply select “Classroom Grant” as that is the catch-all category for applications. Here are brief descriptions of each type of grant, with links to more background on named grants.

  • General Classroom Grants – This is the primary category for grant applications. Proposals are accepted for new and innovative projects, as well as existing or proven projects, that enhance the education and instruction of students in any academic discipline. Grant award amounts vary, but larger grants may be available for projects involving multiple classrooms, across disciplines or more than one school.
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Grants – Provides funding to complement or further the District’s Strategic Plan for Educational Equity. Objectives and types of projects: (1) To promote equity, diversity and inclusion in the School District of La Crosse; (2) To support purchase of materials to supplement or enhance curriculum; (3) To advance antiracism and ensure all students/staff feel safe, welcome and included in school; (4) To center voices of color; (5) to combat racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, and all other systems of inequality and privilege.
  • Richard Swantz Grant – The Richard Swantz Endowment Fund fosters teacher excellence by funding grants for staff development. LPEF looks favorably on requests to bring speakers to the District to address a group of educators. Grant award amounts vary, with consideration of total number of staff affected and relevance to District or school goals. Swantz, the longest serving superintendent of schools in La Crosse history and a co-founder of LPEF, died Oct. 15, 2019 at the age of 84.
  • Rachel Gundersen Arts & Humanities Grant – Grants are funded related to theater, dance, music and visual art forms, or to support projects in literature, languages, global studies, geography, history, law or a host of other topics in the humanities. The endowment fund was established by Rachel Gundersen, a retired school psychologist and former LPEF Board president.
  • Randy and Lynn Nelson Grant – Provides grants in three areas: (1) Physical education or physical fitness; (2) Servant leadership, specifically programs that help students and/or school staff develop leadership skills focused on serving others, on inspiring and influencing people; or (3) Character development and teaching values, such as patience, kindness, humility, respectfulness, selflessness, forgiveness, honesty and commitment. The fund was established by Randy Nelson, who retired in 2020 after nine years as La Crosse superintendent, and his wife, Lynn, who retired in 2018 after 35 years as a physical education teacher, most recently in Rochester, Minn.
  • McGavock Family Music Education Grant – A grant is funded each year for projects to enhance music education. The endowment fund honors Ronald and Philip McGavock. Philip was a music educator in Illinois and Ronald (aka Ronnie Eastman) was a former professional entertainer who made La Crosse his home.
  • Tyser Power of Nature Grant – Provides grants for students within the School District of La Crosse to experience the benefits of being in nature, including: field trips, co-curricular or after-school activities; fees to hire speakers or guides; or costs for students exploring nature-oriented career experiences. Added weight for some level of cost-sharing by the District, or proposals involving collaboration with other local nonprofits. While intended for student experiences, grants may be considered for staff development, or parent education, where the impact can be clearly demonstrated. The endowment fund was established by Kathie and Rob Tyser. Kathie is a retired associate superintendent of La Crosse schools. Rob is a retired professor of biology at UW-La Crosse. See a short YouTube video here.
  • Brauer IB Adventure Grant – Provides a $2,500 grant to be awarded twice annually, for staff training to build International Baccalaureate program knowledge, capacity, skills and competencies in order to support long-term sustainability of an IB World School program in the District. The grant is funded by Sandra Brauer, who retired in 2020 as principal of North Woods International School. She led the effort to gain IB certification at North Woods, which was accredited in 2021.
  • Wish List – Wish List requests don’t easily fit into another category, but aim to fill an exceptional need—or may be for a project with a tight timeline that arises outside of the normal deadlines for Gold Star Grants. Applications are reviewed as-needed. LPEF may solicit specific donors to support Wish List proposals. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact LPEF prior to submitting Wish List requests.