The La Crosse Public Education Foundation provides an opportunity twice each year for School District of La Crosse 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.

Read about recently awarded grants>>

Funding for Gold Star Grants comes from a number of sources, including general funds and funds created to support specific areas of education (Learn more about targeted grants>>)

  • Richard Swantz Grant for teacher training
  • Rachel Gundersen Arts & Humanities Grant
  • Randy and Lynn Nelson Grant for (1) Physical education/fitness; (2) Servant leadership; or (3) Character development
  • Ross/Freedland Diversity Education Grant
  • Freedland Shoah (Holocaust) Study Grant
  • Tyser Power of Nature Grant
  • Brauer IB (International Baccalaureate) Adventure Grant
  • McGavock Fund Music Grant

2024-25 Application Deadlines:

  • Round 1: mid October – exact deadline to be announced. Grants announced early December and funds available in early January.
  • Round 2: mid February – exact deadline to be announced. Grants announced and funds available late March.

Check back in August 2024 for confirmed deadline dates.

Who is eligible for Gold Star Grants?

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

Guidelines and Restrictions

  • 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.
    • 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 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.
  • Gold Star Grants do not provide funding for staff salaries (substitute teachers).
  • LPEF does not reimburse for previously incurred expenses.
  • Grant awards are paid to the School District of La Crosse or to another nonprofit entity. District grantees must follow normal District purchasing procedures and any unused funds will be returned to LPEF> External nonprofit entities must track expenses (including receipts) and return any unused funding ($20 or more) to LPEF as outlined in the grant acceptance email.

Grant Resources

Grant Writing Webinar recording:

Grant Follow-Up Report:


2023-24 Gold Star Application

Check back in August 2024 for an updated form for the 2024-25 school year.

If you have issues accessing the application at the link above, please email Nell.

Application Instructions

Start early!  Give yourself ample time to complete the application, connect with LPEF about any questions you have, and to collect required approvals.

  1. Complete the form, answering all questions unless noted as optional. Refer to the scoring rubric on the next page for more context.
  2. Required Approvals – Your application will not be considered complete without documented approval from all required approvers. Please document that you have the required approvals by inserting PDF’s or screenshots of email communication with all required approvers at the end of your application. 
  3. Save/Print the completed form as a PDF named “Last Name-Project Title”. Please exclude the last 3 instruction pages from your final PDF document.
  4. Submit the PDF as an attachment to:

Targeted Grant Funds

The majority of funding for Gold Star grants is unrestricted, general funding. In addition, the following funds have been established to support grant projects in targeted subject areas. Grant applicants do not need to apply for a specific type of grant, but are encouraged to read through the targeted grant fund descriptions below before applying to learn about the types of funding available.

  • 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, who passed away on June 15, 2022 at the age of 92.
  • 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.
  • Ross/Freedland Diversity Education Grant With funding from the Heather and Stephen Ross and Maureen and Robert Freedland LPEF Fund for Diversity Education at the La Crosse Community Foundation, provides grants for diversity education that promotes empathy, reduces prejudice, and enriches students’ abilities to think critically and creatively as they engage in conversations across difference. Diversity education topics can include, but are not limited to, race and culture, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, and physical and intellectual abilities. Priority for educational opportunities that teach students about groups who are historically excluded/underrepresented in education, and/or groups who are marginalized and oppressed.
  • Freedland Shoah (Holocaust) Study Grants with funding from the Maureen and Robert Freedland LPEF Fund for Studies of the Shoah (Holocaust) of the La Crosse Community Foundation, provides grants to advance students’ understanding of the “Shoah,” the systematic genocide against the Jewish people and other “undesirable” groups targeted for destruction by the Nazi regime in World War II. Priority is given to educational activities concentrating on the Shoah (Holocaust) but related topics may be considered as long as a connection to the Holocaust is maintained.
  • 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.