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SELCO Credit Union awards 65 creative learning grants, 17 to C. Oregon schools

SELCO Community Credit Union

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Through its annual SPARK! Creative Learning Grants program, SELCO Community Credit Union has awarded more than $54,000 to 64 educators at 55 schools across Oregon, including 17 programs at 14 Central Oregon schools.

The program, which funds innovative educational and extracurricular projects, provides grants of as much as $1,000 to K-12 educators across the 27 Oregon counties that SELCO serves.

SELCO’s SPARK! Creative Learning Grants have long supported teachers who have creative classroom ideas but lack the funds to get those projects off the ground. This year’s grant funding represents an increase of more than $11,000 from 2020, when 47 grants were awarded to 38 schools.

This year’s recipients will be celebrated on Friday, December 10, at 3:30 p.m. via SELCO’s virtual grant ceremony, which will be hosted live on Instagram (@selcoccu).

“The basic premise behind SPARK! is in the name — spark creativity, imagination, and learning through unique programs in search of funding,” said Craig Carpenter, SELCO’s senior vice president of lending and business banking. “As students and teachers return to in-person learning this school year, we felt it was more important than ever for SELCO to be a strong advocate in the classroom.”

Among the many notable Central Oregon project highlights are a drone-powered geo-spatial mapping program, a fishing lure building and fish conservation project, and a reader’s workshop about engagement through cultural diversity and equity.

Here are the Central Oregon recipients and projects:

Central Oregon Heather Johnson Wellness & Physical Fitness Program Bend Tech Academy at Marshall High School Bend
Central Oregon Dillon Mucha Logo Design Bend Tech Academy at Marshall High School Bend
Central Oregon Rayne Cedergreen Operation Brain Break Caldera High School Bend
Central Oregon Pascaline Ocana Amplifying 2D Art with the Power of a Press Desert Sky Montessori Bend
Central Oregon Allison Gardner Reader's Workshop: Engagement Through Cultural Diversity and Equity Elk Meadow Elementary School Bend
Central Oregon Maddi Webb Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto Juniper Elementary School Bend
Central Oregon Stacia Biancucci Nourishing Our Brains to Build Resilience Pacific Crest Middle School Bend
Central Oregon Alisa Jeffries Exploring from Above: Geo Spacial Mapping Trinity Lutheran School Bend
Central Oregon Ken Thorp Projects on the Rise La Pine High School La Pine
Central Oregon Cari Fike Expanding Vocational Opportunities La Pine High School La Pine
Central Oregon Christina Connelly Gaga Ball Pit Creation M.A. Lynch Elementary School Redmond
Central Oregon Gina Dietz First Grade STEM Bins Sage Elementary School Redmond
Central Oregon Ashley McDonough Brain Bags Sage Elementary School Redmond
Central Oregon Natalie Richards National Parks STEAM Partner Project Tom McCall Elementary School Redmond
Central Oregon Artesha Ballard Love For Reading Culver Elementary School Culver
Central Oregon Mark Habliston Lure Building Components Culver Middle School Culver
Central Oregon Carmen Lawson Kindergarten Garden Madras Elementary School Madras

The committee’s goal is to fund innovative projects that will have the largest possible impact on students and the greatest opportunity to leave a lasting impression.

One recent example is from Elizabeth Skenzick’s classroom at Elmira Elementary, a grant recipient for its “Squiggle Art for Growth Mindset” program. Skenzick and her first-grade class used their SPARK! Grant to create a children’s book called “The Magic Garden,” which allowed every student to become a published author by writing about and illustrating what they would plant in their own magic garden. “These past two school years have been especially hard for families, students, and staff,” said Skenzick. “But this grant has been a bright spot through it all.”

For more information on SELCO Community Credit Union’s SPARK! Creative Learning Grants or to follow the progress of some of the grant recipients, visit

About SELCO Community Credit Union:

Founded 85 years ago by a group of fiscally minded teachers, Springfield-based SELCO Community Credit Union today serves more than 143,000 members as the third-largest Oregon-based credit union. A not-for-profit, federally insured, member-driven financial cooperative with $2.5 billion in assets, SELCO provides its member-owners with exceptional rates and low fees on a full range of financial products and services, including banking, mortgages, personal and business loans, investments, and insurance. Membership is available to anyone who lives or works in one of the 27 Oregon counties SELCO serves. For more information or to become a member today, stop by one of SELCO’s 14 branches, visit, or call 800-445-4483.

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