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SELCO Community Credit Union awards SPARK! Creative Learning Grants to 61 educators, 11 from Central Oregon

(Update: Adding video, interview)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (KTVZ) — A total of 61 educators representing 56 schools across Oregon, including 11 from Central Oregon, have been awarded more than $53,000 as part of SELCO Community Credit Union’s annual SPARK! Creative Learning Grants program.

SPARK! Creative Learning Grants are designed to support teachers with creative classroom ideas but lack the funds to get those projects off the ground. Individual grants of as much as $1,000 each are awarded to K-12 educators across the 27 Oregon counties that SELCO serves.

“SELCO launched the SPARK! Creative Learning Grants program more than 30 years ago, and year after year we’re struck by the innovative ways Oregon’s educators spark their students’ thirst for knowledge,” said Craig Carpenter, SELCO’s senior vice president of lending and business banking. “The SPARK! program was created to support new and meaningful ways to reach students, and it continues to be successful in that mission. As a credit union founded by educators, championing teachers and students will always be an important part of what we do.”

This year’s recipients include 11 programs from nine Central Oregon schools:

  • Sticker & Decal Printer Computer — Linzie Harris, Bend Tech Academy at Marshall High School, Bend
  • Introduction to Medical Careers: The Apprentice Doctor — Becky Horst, Caldera High School, Bend
  • Sustainable Hydroponic Window Gardens — Colin McCusker, Cascades Academy of Central Oregon, Bend
  • Graphing Calculators — Heather Bussmann, Summit High School, Bend
  • Building Capacity: Teaching students the art of welding for a practical purpose — Heather Stueve, Trinity Lutheran School, Bend
  • Finger Skateboard Maker — Josh Pikop, Caldera High School, Bend
  • Empowering Tomorrow's Biotechnologists: Lab Coats for High School Students — Laura Gemignani, Caldera High School, Bend
  • Mobile Makerspace — Simone Morris-Martin, Desert Sky Montessori, Bend
  • Overcoming Obstacles in PE — Keri Rahi, Culver Elementary School, Culver
  • Hawks Gear — Brooke Berry, La Pine High School, La Pine
  • Exploration Stations — Ashley Hawkins, Barnes Butte Elementary, Prineville

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

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

This year’s recipients include Colin McCusker, a teacher at Cascades Academy in Bend, who is using a SPARK! Grant to help fund the “Sustainable Hydroponic Window Gardens” project — which asks students to design and fabricate sustainable hydroponic window gardens that will provide organic herbs and greens to the school’s lunch program. Other recipients include Nicholas Krissie of Lincoln Middle School in Oakland, who will use the funds for “STEM Rocks!” which teaches students STEM principles through building guitars that students can use to learn to play the blues.

In 2022, SELCO awarded more than $54,000 to 60 educators across 55 Oregon schools. Funded projects included a library book overhaul at Cesar E. Chavez Elementary School in Eugene to replace aging books with new, engaging nonfiction. See a video spotlight of the program HERE.

“(The students) were able to get new books — about dinosaurs, about pets, about crafts, about maker things — and they were super excited,” said Martha Dyer, Chavez Elementary School’s teacher-librarian and SPARK! Grant recipient. “You could see the joy in their faces and the excitement. They wanted to check them out right away.”

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 nearly 90 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 longest-standing Oregon-based credit unions. A not-for-profit, federally insured, member-driven financial cooperative with more than $2.7 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.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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