HEF announces seven grants for a total of $82,721 for the 2023-24 school year! Learn more about exciting grants coming to our kids’ classrooms this year below. 


Front Playground Fun ($10,000), Kaitlyn O’Sullivan & Tammie Cecere, Creative Play, K-4.
The Building Leadership Team comprised of teachers, parents, students and administrators requested this grant to revamp Hillside’s new front playground blacktop. The goal is to improve learning by providing interactive activities in the form of stencils and striping. Some examples of activities are sensory paths, hopscotch, four square, a basketball court, a hundred chart, maps, etc. This grant will transform the front playground into an exciting display of stencils and striping and make the students’ experience on the front playground more enjoyable both for instruction and at recess time. It will have a large impact benefiting all K-4 students.

Hillside Weather Station ($4,700), Robin Farrell, Science, K & 3. Hillside Elementary School will now become an official Earth Networks weather station, which will allow Hillside to become a community contributor of weather data. This exciting grant from Robin Farrell will expose Kindergarten and 3rd grade students to the excitement and power of weather forecasting and reporting. Students will learn to measure, track, and graph trends in precipitation, temperature, and even cloud cover, deepening their understanding of weather and climate as well as cultivating students’ passion to follow, understand, report, and even actively use the information.



Sweethearts & Heroes ($7,600), Jeanette Kocur & Jennifer Spirelli, Anti-Bullying/ Socio-Emotional Learning, 6-8. The focus of the Sweethearts to Heroes program is to educate society on the impact of bullying, to build empathy and compassion in our youth and teach youngsters to promote bystander empowerment through leadership roles. Following its highly successful implementation at Hillside and the High School last year, the Middle School has enthusiastically requested the expansion of this program, citing exceptional feedback from participating teachers and students. It will provide 6th,7th and 8th graders the opportunity to learn about the power of compassion within human connections and relationships. Bystander empowerment will again be promoted through a mentoring program, in which middle school students will be trained to work with younger students, teaching them the importance of leadership, empathy, and other character skills.



Anodizing Niobium: An Intersectional Exploration of Art and Chemistry ($8,000), Faye Barenfeld & Lorienne Solaski, Science/Art, 9-12. This is a unique cross-disciplinary learning experience between students in Chemistry and Drawing & Painting or Portfolio Development classes. Students in both classes will work collaboratively and creatively, utilizing and teaching each other concepts from both chemistry and art classes, in order to create artwork with a purpose and to help students learn more about the intersection between science, art, and culture.

Improvement and Upgrade to HHS Auditorium Lighting: 2 LED spotlights & training for all new equipment ($11,421), Phyllis Udice, Theater, 5-12. This grant will support much needed improvement to the theater lighting. There has not been an upgrade to the lighting in the theater since 2008. It will not only supply two needed additional spotlights that will advance the performing arts programming for all Hastings theater and music students from grades 5 through 12, but also provide students with the technical training to operate them. The grant allows for two specialists to work with students to train them on the new system. Through their mentorship, students will learn the skills needed to light various productions, both theatrical and musical. The LED lighting system will also provide for a better audience experience, make the theater more energy efficient, and will last for many years to come.



Facing History and Ourselves: Teaching for Equity and Justice Program ($25,000 spread over two years ($11,000 this 23-24 SY), Jenice Mateo-Toledo, History/Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, K-12.
Facing History and Ourselves (FH & O) is an organization that provides professional learning, resources and support to educators, using history in a way that unites equity, social emotional learning, and civics. Following the highly successful launch of this program funded by a grant from HEF last year, the District has made a request for an additional $25,000 over the next two years. This allocation would ensure that every teacher within the district has the opportunity to benefit from this highly regarded program and that the program is scaled throughout the entire district over the course of three years.


Restorative Practices ($30,000), Peter Scotch, Jenice Mateo-Toledo, & Kamillah Dawkins, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion/Socio-Emotional Learning, K-12.  Restorative Practices programming will provide all administrators, faculty, and staff with restorative approaches to managing negative behavior, with a focus on relationships, respect, and the well-being of others. This grant seeks to improve the school climate, strengthen the social-emotional skills of our students, and help to develop empathy and perspective.