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SELCO Credit Union awards 60 SPARK! creative learning grants, including 17 to Central Oregon schools

SELCO Community Credit Union

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (KTVZ) — SELCO Community Credit Union announced Wednesday that it has awarded more than $54,000 to 60 educators at 55 schools across Oregon through its annual SPARK! Creative Learning Grants program, including 17 in Central Oregon.

The program, which has long supported teachers who have creative classroom ideas but lack the funds to get those projects off the ground, provides grants of as much as $1,000 to K-12 educators across the 27 Oregon counties that SELCO serves.

“This program was started nearly 30 years ago, and the idea hasn’t changed: Make a difference for educators committed to sparking a thirst for learning in their students,” said Craig Carpenter, SELCO’s senior vice president of lending and business banking. “As a credit union founded by educators nearly 90 years ago, SELCO remains dedicated to supporting the many innovative educators throughout Oregon who want to find new and meaningful ways to reach students.” 

This year’s recipients include 17 programs from 16 Central Oregon schools:

  • Sticker & Decal Printer Computer — Linzie Harris, Bend Tech Academy at Marshall High School, Bend
  • CSI-Mysteries of Science & Social Studies — Laurie Krei, Bridge Charter Academy, Bend
  • Love, Breath, and Robots — Maddi Webb, Juniper Elementary School, Bend
  • Lava Ridge Marimba Ensemble — Matthew Crawmer, Lava Ridge Elementary School, Bend
  • Disc Golf Course for PE and Recess — Jenny White, North Star Elementary School, Bend
  • Graphing the Gap — Heather Bussmann, Summit High School, Bend
  • Amazing ME! - A celebration of colors — Kelly Garcia-Menlow, Tumalo Community School, Bend
  • Exploring Chemical Artistry — Moe Anderson, Waldorf School of Bend
  • A New Game: Made & Taught by Students — Logan Bertram, Buff Elementary School, Madras
  • Supporting Special Education through Innovative Play — Sara Johnston, Jefferson County Middle School, Madras
  • Small Group Resources for Every Learner — Melinda Grote, Madras Elementary School, Madras
  • Multi-Sensory Calming Zone — Ken Thorp, La Pine Transition Program
  • Class Community Appreciation Book — Kim Bartolotti, Barnes Butte Elementary School, Prineville
  • Bring Fun to the Classroom — Angela Cheeney, Barnes Butte Elementary, Prineville
  • STEM Bins — Aurora Smith, Sage Elementary School, Redmond
  • Social/Emotional Development Calm Corner — Natalie Lemos, St. Thomas Academy, Redmond
  • Flashlight Friday — Jennifer Ippolito, Warm Springs K-8 Academy, Warm Springs

A complete list of statewide recipients and project descriptions can be found HERE.

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.

For example, Judy Tacchini, a teacher at Cascade Middle School in Eugene, used a SPARK! Grant in 2021 to help fund her “Preserving the Narrative” program — which tasked students with writing, designing, curating, and publishing a paperback anthology of stories reflecting the lived, or imagined, experiences of students, for students. See a video spotlight of the program HERE.

Natalie Richards, a teacher at Tom McCall Elementary School in Redmond and a 2021 SPARK! Grant recipient was awarded a SPARK! Grant for her fourth-grade classroom’s “Sphero National Parks Project.”

“It was a hit with my fourth graders,” said Richards. “They couldn’t have been more excited to construct and paint their park models, and then code their Sphero robot ‘park rangers’ to show their classmates around. Without the SPARK! Grant, this learning experience would not have been possible.”

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 86 years ago by a group of fiscally minded teachers, Springfield-based SELCO Community Credit Union today serves more than 150,000 members as one of the largest and longstanding Oregon-based credit unions. A not-for-profit, federally insured, member-driven financial cooperative with more than $2.6 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 or eight Washington counties SELCO serves. For more information or to become a member today, stop by one of SELCO’s 15 branches, visit, or call 800-445-4483.

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