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  • WSF Staff

$450,000+ For the Year

Updated: Dec 14, 2022

2022 was a year of many milestones for the Foundation. In February, we announced our next district initiative, Teach Waterloo, that is our first large scale program to directly impact Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion amongst WCSD staff. In May, we had a record-breaking Sparking Academic Excellence Breakfast after 3 years off, and raised over $66,000. In September, we invested our 2 MILLIONTH DOLLAR into the Waterloo Schools, and celebrated with an amazing community event at the Waterloo Career Center. In December, we announced our yearly giving to be over $450,000.

Seeing these accomplishments listed one after another, truly encompasses not only our passion for making the Waterloo Schools a better place for ALL students, but the passion of the Cedar Valley to invest into our youth, today.

Thank you to all of our supporters who have made these impacts across the district possible:

Teach Waterloo - Our most recent district initiative, Teach Waterloo, allows support staff of diverse backgrounds to achieve their educational degree free of cost from the University of Northern Iowa while working in the WCSD. Once completed, these TW fellows have a secured spot to teach in the Waterloo Schools. With our committed dollars, the WSF was able to support 7 new participants for the Fall 2022 semester.

East High’s Summer Music Trip - This past summer, East High’s choir, orchestra, and band students ventured down south to visit Memphis and St. Louis to discover some key historical music sites over the course of 5 days. Over 70 students had the opportunity to visit Elvis’s home of Graceland, tour the National Civil Rights Museum, stroll down Beale Street, explore the Sun Studios, and much, much more!

Twice Exceptional (2E) - 2E, one of our district initiatives, supports gifted students who may have one or more disabilities. This year, the Waterloo Schools Foundation provided additional training and professional development for educators who provide 2E curriculum across the District.

Spider Net at Orange Elementary - Previously, Orange Elementary received an Innovative Learning Grant to support their playground and naturescape available to students during recess. To continue this work, loyal Orange community members replaced the Spider Net to ensure quality equipment for students!

Waterloo Schools Coaches Academy - Another one of our district initiatives, Coaches Academy, works to provide professional development opportunities for Waterloo Schools coaching staff to learn more about their field, their students, and to enhance the overall athletic experience. This year, the 150 coaching staff participated in 3 professional development summits.

Camp Invention Student Scholarships - With the help of the Guernsey Foundation and local donors, the Waterloo Schools Foundation was able to provide over 125 scholarships for students to attend Camp Invention this past June. Camp Invention is a week-long summer STEM program that aims to expose students to the various aspects of STEM in the K-6 age.

10 Young Scholars (student) grants - The Waterloo Schools Foundation opened up our Young Scholars grant applications this past spring after nearly 3 years off due to covid-19. We had an influx of incredible student opportunities, and awarded over $14,000 to impact 40+ students. Grants included the following: Carver Learning Patio, CyberForce Security Team Competition, East High BPA Nationals, Concordia Village Spanish Immersion Camp, Eastern Iowa Piano Camp, Dorian Music Camp, and the Poyner Olympic Book Project.

32 teacher’s full Iowa Teacher Licenses - Once a teacher completes their mentoring program and their second year of teaching in the WCSD, they qualify for their full Iowa teaching license. These are $100 per teacher, and required by the state. Any new teachers who decide to return to the Waterloo Schools for a third year, have their $100 license cost covered by the Waterloo Schools Foundation. We are one of the ONLY districts in the state that provide this benefit and incentive for new teachers!

Highland Book Vending Machine - In 2021, Liz Thorpe and her late husband, Steve, helped to install a Book Vending Machine at Highland Elementary. Students utilize “coins” to dispense various books for different reading levels. This year, we continued to support this initiative at Highland by adding additional dollars to fund reading materials.

Arts Ignite for ELL and Migrant students - Arts Ignite was a first of its kind this summer. This two-week arts integration program was hosted by the Waterloo Schools and Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center for over 150 ELL and Migrant students. The District also partnered with the organization, Arts Ignite, to bring 8 teaching artists from New York City to the Cedar Valley to lead these students. They used arts integration, which utilizes various art forms (performance, visual, etc) to expand learning, and in this case, practice english. A big thank you to VGM for helping fund the cost of this program!

Multicultural and Inclusive Texts - As students are growing their sense of self, as well as their reading and writing skills, it is important to have representation among literacy materials. To support this, the WSF bought books for literacy classrooms to provide more access for students to see themselves in the literature they read for class and for their free time.

3rd Grade STEAM Exploratory Bins - Kingsley Elementary requested some STEAM exploratory bins for one of their 3rd grade classrooms. These bins are used in the morning to allow students to start their day with a creative mind while collaborating with their peers. This team-building setting gives ALL students a chance to be successful in creating something and helps students learn to communicate effectively with their peers. Way to go Brandy Twedt in 3rd grade!

West STEM Project Research Equipment - The Waterloo West STEM project is an extracurricular activity that allows students to draft, research, and present original research across the state of Iowa. This group was needing additional lab equipment to be able to expand student research, and applied for funding at the WSF. We helped secure new grow lights, co2 probes, and other lab equipment.

District-wide Teacher Appreciation Initiatives - Since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, we have seen such a need in supporting our educators across the District. As front line workers during the height of covid, to helping adjust our students back to their new normal, our educators and district staff have been instrumental in navigating our unknown while continuing to pour into our students. To honor this, the Waterloo Schools Foundation has participated in several appreciation initiatives to show our staff that we see them and that they matter.

First, in February, the WSF bought all 1700 staff members a meal of their choice on a professional development day. Staff across the district were able to enjoy their time with coworkers, rejuvenate, and know that the Foundation and the Cedar Valley value them, their profession, and their impact on our youth.

Most recently, in partnership with Superintendent Dr. Smith, the Waterloo Schools Foundation is helping to sponsor the #BeBold Awards. These highlight staff members across the district who are going above and beyond for their coworkers, students, and schools, and being BOLD. Each month for the rest of the school year, Dr. Smith and WSF Executive Director, Hannah Luce, are presenting staff winners with a $25 gift certificate to local restaurants and businesses thanks to the generosity of WSF’s supporters!

Evolution of African-American Music Student Experience - Central Middle School, with the help of the Waterloo Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra, brought Bruce Henry, an African-American artist from Chicago, to the WCSD to inform students of how African-Americans have influenced our present music today and the evolution of African-American music over the past 400 years. Students engaged in classroom demonstrations as well as vocal performances! A key note about this experience: this was the funding request that pushed us to our 2 million dollar mark. Thank you, Ryan Ochena and Ross Bauer for making this happen.

Waterloo Career Center - Career and Technical Education is a huge priority for the Waterloo Community School District. The Waterloo Career Center is embodying this very value in its programming, which allows students (in and outside of the WCSD) to participate in 17 exploratory career programs. Through partnerships with Unity Point Health and John Deere, the WSF has supported overall programming support for health pathways and other programs.

Want to learn more about these funding opportunities? Contact our Executive Director, Hannah Luce, at 319-939-9550 or

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