Clayton Ridge awarded $150,000 grant

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By Caroline Rosacker

The Iowa Department of Education awarded nearly $6 million in "Learning Beyond the Bell" grants to 67 schools throughout the state to expand high-quality before- and after-school STEM programming. 

Clayton Ridge awarded $150,00

Clayton Ridge High School English/K-12 ESL and 6-12 Instructional and Technology Coach, Nicole DeGidio applied for a portion of the "Learning Beyond the Bell" grant, and was recently notified that the Clayton Ridge Middle/High School would be receiving $150,000 to be used toward after school programming.  

"The grant money will be used to sustain and expand our existing after school program, and promote high-quality STEM programming that will support families and advance student achievement in partnership with community organizations," DeGidio told The Press. "The 'Learning Beyond the Bell' grant will help support improved student achievement, strengthen attendance, provide opportunities for family involvement, and increase positive student behaviors." 

Closing learning gaps

The Iowa Department of Education commended all of the grant recipients for their leadership in recognizing the importance of the department's shared vision to bridge and close learning gaps by engaging students in dynamic learning, and supporting working families beyond the school day. 

"There was such an overwhelming response from schools across the state that the Department of Education leveraged additional federal funds increasing the amount from $3.5 million to $6 million," DeGidio noted. "For the past three years the Clayton Ridge National Honor Society has provided a family literacy night at the Guttenberg campus. It is exciting to be able to expand on that."

Clayton Ridge After School Program 

The grant money will be used to purchase robots for coding, and updated iPAD's, which can both be used in the classroom as well, and well-balanced, nutritious snacks and beverages for participating students. A portion of the grant covers a stipend for four trained professionals from the Clayton Ridge staff to oversee programing. 

Alternating week night programing, which is available to Clayton Ridge students in grades 6-12, will take place from 3:30 - 5 p.m. with the exception of Wednesday, which is held from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Programing may include community partnership day, STEM programing, cooking class with families, and a study table on Wednesday. "Because our programming has to conclude on Wednesday at 3:30 we will continue to keep that as an opportunity for students to work on, or get extra assistance with homework," she commented. "We are looking forward to getting more families into the building, so they can see firsthand all the great things that are happening at Clayton Ridge." 

The budget conscious instructor is reaching out to Keystone Area Education Agency employee Mindy Reimer and former Keystone AEA employee and former Clayton Ridge technology coach Deb Hankes to help purchase items for the after school STEM programs to help maximize the grant money. 

Benefits and objectives

"Beyond the Bell will offer opportunities for students interested in computer science and engineering, help students stay engaged in learning, offer students who don't participate in sports and extracurricular activities an option, and bring more families together in a shared experience at Clayton Ridge," she enthusiastically explained. "When Superintendent Shane Wahls told me we received the grant it was like winning the lottery. I am eager to get students and families excited about coming to school!"

Community involvement

Community members interested in presenting a technology based program can contact Nicole DeGidio at

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