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ST. LOUIS, MO -- Securing increased funding for math and science education can be challenging for many rural school districts. America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund, helps school districts fund STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) projects that prepare students for an increasingly technology-driven workforce. Through the program, grants of $10,000 and $25,000 are awarded to rural public school districts across the U.S. to enhance math and science curriculum.

Since 2011, Grow Rural Education has partnered with farmers to award over $9 million to more than 650 school districts to enhance opportunities available to students in rural America. Indiana, Michigan and Ohio school districts have received $1,305,000 in grants since the program’s inception.

A grant received in 2014 by Otsego Public Schools in Otsego, Michigan, demonstrates how farmer nominations paired with outstanding school applications can positively impact schools, their students and the community through enhanced math and science curriculum.

The district used the $25,000 grant to purchase LEGO robotics kits to enhance STEM curriculum in preschool through eighth-grade classrooms. The kits allowed the district to start a middle school First Tech challenge team last year, and one of the three teams created placed 4th in the state competition.  Additionally, a summer “tech camp” was created for upper elementary students to expose them to a variety of STEM activities.  The camp was so popular the district had to offer a second session later in the summer to accommodate the number of students who wanted to participate.  Finally, funds from the grant were also used to help a teacher implement an afterschool Lego league for 1st-3rd graders. The project has fostered growth in STEM throughout the district and helped create partnerships with local businesses and community volunteers.

The 2016 America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education program is open for farmer nominations. Between now and April 1, farmers in eligible counties can nominate a public school district in their community to apply for a $10,000 or $25,000 grant. Nominated school districts can then submit grant applications through April 15, 2016, to compete for the funds to strengthen and expand their math or science programs. The grants support a variety of initiatives, including new technology for hands-on learning, greenhouses and outdoor classroom instruction, scientific laboratory advancements and curriculum development.

All school applications are evaluated based on merit, need and community support. The America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education Advisory Council, a group of farmers from across the U.S., will select the winning grant applications, which will be announced in August.

Grow Rural Education is part of the America’s Farmers initiative. Since 2010, the America’s Farmers campaign and programs have advocated on behalf of farmers and their efforts to meet society’s needs through agriculture. Learn more at AmericasFarmers.com.

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