DARING Innovation Grants

2023-2024 DARING Innovation Grant Recipients

The District 128 Foundation for Learning continued its mission to enhance and enrich learning in Community High School District 128 by awarding 16 DARING Innovation Grants totaling $31,781.87 to Libertyville High School, Vernon Hills High School and Transition Pathways teachers and District Office staff. The 2023-2024 grant winners were announced in April 2024. This year's grants brought the number of grants awarded by the Foundation since 2008 to 208 and the total dollars funded to $337,296.97. The Foundation has also funded $128,600 for project funding to LHS and VHHS. Total funding for Innovation Grants and Projects is $465,896.97. 

In addition to funding DARING Innovation Grants and Projects, the Foundation has funded $119,816.15 for the Students In Need project since 2015. To date, the Foundation has given LHS and VHHS $608,712.22 in funding for the initiatives listed above.

The 2023-2024 DARING Innovation Grants Winners

2023-2024 DARING Innovation Grant Recipients

Pictured top row: Meghan Ahern, Ashley Antony, Rebecca Austin, Michelle Bastiani, Yon Choi, Alyssa Clarke, Nicole Collins, Justina Doll, Amy Elliott

Pictured 2nd row: Elissa Gong, Alicia Harris, Neal Hausmann, Erin Jaffe, Kim Jansen, Jennifer Kahn, Paul Karnstedt, Karen Kym, Alice Leafblad

Pictured 3rd row: Adam Lueken, Jenna Manz, Wendy Meister-Louria, Brian Miller, Simone Oslage, Rebecca Pike de Oliveria, Danielle Rogner, Jason Rush, Jan Sancho

Pictured bottom row: Marci Simmons, Julie Smith, Benjamin Stepen, Mary Todoric, Kaydee Wasserman, Kimberly Weinberg, Shawn Woodie, Sara Zaher


The 2023-2024 DARING Innovation Grant Summaries

Abilities in Bloom Through Vocational Consumer Education - This grant provides a sustainable greenhouse for the Vocational Consumer Education course to address the development of consumer, vocational, and independent living skills. The greenhouse builds skills through Abilities and Bloom, a business created by students and maintained by the students in the course. The goal is to utilize a greenhouse to implement vocational, consumer and independent living skills directly related to transition goals, in the horticulture pathway, identified by students. Students manage the greenhouse, take care of the plants, and sell the plants. $2,000 - LHS - Special Education - Alice Leafblad 

Amplifying D128 Voices: Empowering Student Storytellers with Class Intercom - D128 students and staff are able to share their stories and contribute to the district's social media presence with Class Intercom, a platform designed for student-driven content creation. This allows students and staff to directly engage with district social media and to hone communication skills, foster digital citizenship, and enhance community interaction. Class Intercom Is accessible to all school organizations and teams as well as individuals and content is vetted before publication to ensure authenticity, relevance and accuracy. $2,195 - District Office - Mary Todoric 

Butler Lake Science Day -This grant helps create Butler Lake Day which will be an annual hands-on scientific data collection event. Students will work with local scientists to collect data related to water quality and ecological indicators to answer the question, "Is Butler Lake Healthy?" The data collected will become part of a longitudinal data set that students will share with the scientific community and examine for trends. $2,500 - LHS - Science - Jennifer Kahn

Chemistry in our Lives - The project allows students to test solutions from their households for conductivity, solubility, and molarity in their everyday lives. Students get a deeper understanding of the chemistry around them (soda, cleaning supplies, juice, milk) with products they see on a day to day basis. $950 - VHHS - Science - Nicole Collins Yon Choi, Sara Zaher 

Differentiation that Makes a Difference -This grant provides a Diffit site license. Diffit is an AI-powered tool that allows educators to efficiently and effectively convert any content to all reading levels in a multitude of languages. Additionally, it helps teachers create researched-based and differentiated activities for use in the classroom across all disciplines using text and videos and supports multilingual learners in and out of the EL program. $2,500 - VHHS - EL, Physical Welfare, Social Studies - Michelle Bastiani, Elissa Gong, Wendy Meister-Louria, Rebecca Pike de Oliveira, Julie Smith, Benjamin Stepen, Shawn Woodie 

Food in the Chemistry Classroom - Students explore various Chemistry topics by cooking in the classroom. A range of experiments such as altering flour in bread and measuring the differences, altering acidity of a solution to make cheese, and exploring intermolecular forces in a gluten network while kneading dough relate the Chemistry curriculum to everyday life. $1,245.50 - LHS - Science - Paul Karnstedt 

Functional Literacy: Math and Life Skills through Service Learning in a Global Community - Students utilize functional literacy skills, math application skills, and social skills to implement service learning projects. They research community based organizations that are in need of support, identify an organization every five weeks, and develop a service learning project. The projects identify the problem the organization is working to solve, the needs of the organization, the plan for students to help solve the problem, and the implementation of the plan. $2,500 - LHS - Special Services - Meghan Ahern, Kim Jansen, Simone Oslage, Jenna Manz, Alice Leafblad 

“Getting to Know You” | Getting Students to Sequence DNA - This project gives students the opportunity to sequence stretches of DNA from two different organisms: a mushroom and themself. The grant provides lab equipment, materials, and sequencing services to pilot two labs during two semesters of Biotechnology and Genetics. The first lab genetically identifies an unknown organism, and the second lab determines evolutionary relatedness. Students sequence a fragment of their own DNA to determine their evolutionary relatedness with hominid species. $2,500 - VHHS - Science - Amy Elliott 

Light Up the Dance Floor: A Collaborative Project on Fashion, Engineering, Dance and Programming - This project creates lighted outfits that are programmed to synchronize with choreographed dance performances. It involves the collaboration of four different classes: fashion design, electrical engineering, dance, and coding. The students learn how to design, sew, wire, and code lighted clothing that can produce various patterns and effects. The project showcases the students’ work and demonstrates their creativity and skills. $2,500 - VHHS - Interdisciplinary - Adam Lueken, Erin Jaffe, Jan Sancho, Brian Miller, Jason Rush 

Multipurpose Functional Skills Lab - This grant helps the educational team from the special services department to create a multipurpose functional skills lab for students who receive Special Education Services. This space is utilized to run vocational and functional living skills activities to develop skills needed to prepare students to meet their post-secondary goals in the areas of living independently, vocational education/training, and obtaining a job in an area of their career interest area. $2,187.97 - VHHS - Special Services - Rebecca Austin, Kaydee Wasserman, Danielle Rogner

NueLog Environmental Science Probes -This grant provides two sets of NueLog environmental science probes.These probes are used for water quality testing and agriculture and atmospheric science testing. The probes can be taken out into the field to collect data without the need for internet or additional batteries. $2,414.40 - VHHS - Science - Alyssa Clarke

PASCO - Human Eye Model - This project allows students to use plastic lenses to create images for normal vision, far-sightedness, near-sightedness, and astigmatism. Additional lenses are placed in front of the eye to correct vision problems and allows students to tinker with a working model of the human eye to create images on the retina, fix the images using refraction (which optometrists do in the real world), and see how changing the anatomy of the eye can also create problems physiologically. $199 - VHHS - Science - Ashley Antony 

Proteomics: The Next Biotechnology Frontier - This grant provides a class set of apparatuses used for Western Blotting, a technique to identify specific proteins in a sample. This new equipment allows students to identify specific proteins from the mix using antibodies. $2,500 - VHHS - Science - Amy Elliott, Justina Doll 

Roller Coaster Physics - This grant allows students to apply their knowledge of physics to the real-world scenario of roller coasters! Using a roller coaster apparatus, students explore topics in Energy, Uniform Circular Motion, Forces, Dynamics, Kinematics and Rotation. $2,500 - VHHS - Science - Nicole Collins, Alicia Harris, Neal Hausmann 

Self-Regulation: Finding Calm - This grant provides Calm Connect, a scientifically based program that uses a multisensory approach to help individuals calm their nervous system. This helps students build a toolbox of self-regulation strategies so they can effectively engage in the school and community environment. $1,490 - Transition Pathways - Special Services - Marci Simmons, Kimberly Weinberg 

World Dance Week - This project impacts student engagement through exploration of world dance forms. Students engage in a variety of cultural dance forms, instructed by renowned professionals in each field. Also, students explore dance through their own unique cultural identity. $1,600 - VHHS - Physical Welfare - Erin Jaffe 

Total Grants Funded for 2023-2024 - $31,781.87

Founded in 2007, the Foundation for Learning was established to enhance and enrich the instructional program in District 128 by obtaining resources through community partnerships.

Outdoor Education Cold Water Immersion pictures

Outdoor Education Cold Water Immersion - January 2021