2020 GRANTS - Advancing Equity


Every year, the NEF develops a theme for our grant program(s) which is announced to staff when the application is shared. Staff have several weeks to explore, develop and submit their proposal. The NEF Grants Committee, a mix of NEF trustees and community members, then reviews all of the applications, evaluates them in partnership with district administration, and notifies recipients with a joyful surprise announcement! 


In 2020, the NEF decided to prioritize grant requests that address racism and advance equity for all students. The NEF values the unique and varied experiences of all our students and staff and believe that all students must have access to equitable learning opportunities to expand their world. Priority will be given to:

●     Innovative, interesting lessons that connect students to their identify as well as to experiences different from their own

●     Emphasis on moving from a simple appreciation of diversity to a deeper, active, tangible pursuit of equity

●     Focus upon the social and emotional well-being of all students and the impact racism has had on all students

●     Clear design and understanding of an intended outcome for students

●     Programs and lessons that can be scaled and replicated if shown to have positive impact for students


In partnership with the NCSD, the NEF awarded 23 grants totaling over $35,000.  See the detail below on all the awards and photos.

None of this is possible without your direct support of the NEF.  

MID TEACHERS Diane McCurdy.png

Diane McCurdy, Novi Middle School- Learning Languages can be FUN!

The beneficiaries of this grant would be all World Language students at Novi Middle School. Observers would see the many tools that we can use to make the language learning fun and innovative. The goal of this project is to give open opportunities for our World Language staff to share and collaborate with wordwall.net to create meaningful and educational online learning fun for our students. Our desired outcome is to give our World Language students the various opportunities to learn a second language and have fun at the same time.

Michelle Donberger, Novi Woods Elementary - Diversity in Reading 


This grant would directly benefit all of the fourth grade students at Novi Woods Elementary. As a part of our Analyzing and Interpretive Reading Unit, our fourth grade team would like to incorporate literary non-fiction examples of historical figures into our curriculum. The goal of our project is to allow students to relate to people who are like them or to gain an understanding of those who are not like them. It is important for kids to not only see themselves in literature, but also to gain additional perspectives of the world around them.

donberger nef grant 86228.png
IB Spanish Library/Reader for IB Spanish Classes

Kaitlyn West-Cardenas, Novi High School


Spanish in level four and/or part of the International Baccalaureate program will directly benefit from this grant providing our class with a set of novels for our them.  By reading a story about immigration, based on true life events, with factual information, written in a way students learning Spanish can understand the complex topic with their level of Spanish vocabulary is immensely valuable in developing students who are globally-minded. We will add many books to our classroom library that are similar as well. 

Sharon Trumpy, PAASN 

PAASN has heard from teachers and students that, while they are often able to recognize racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of discrimination, they do not feel they have effective tools to intervene. Bystander Intervention Training will build participants' "toolkits" and give them a chance to practice these skills in advance. When confronted with acts of racism or other harassment or discrimination in NCSD or elsewhere, participants will be well-prepared to respond in a manner that is non-violent and effective.

PAASN 86258.png

Ashleigh Burry, Novi Meadows - For Black Girls Like Me


This grant would benefit the 5th grade students at Novi Meadows. The implementation of this grant will be executed in the form of 4 “virtual” author’s visits (Hybrid A, Hybrid B and 2 Virtual groups) on days that Hybrid students are engaging in at home learning.

The goal of this project would be to develop student curiosity as well as raise student awareness about the topics of family, music, race and personal identity. This common experience would also provide us with an opportunity to engage in conversations with students about the previously mentioned topic with a common reference point to draw from. 

Rebecca Middleton, Novi Middle School - Mental Health Matters, School Therapy Dog Services


The direct beneficiaries of this grant are the students of Novi Middle School and other NCSD schools by appointment. This grant is not limited to a specific classroom or student. Having a therapy dog at NMS will be a great support for all students within the building, but especially those students who need it the most (children with lack of access to quality mental health services, those with mental health or social-emotional needs, behaviors, learning deficits, etc.). The goal of this project is to provide support to children who do not have adequate access to mental health services due to living in a low income household as well as support and enrich learning for all students. 

MIDDLETON 86271.png

Lauren Nizol – Novi High School - Advancing Equity through Nonfiction Reading


The ELA Department at NHS believes in "engaging students with texts that explore racial identity and issues of equity and power. We value the experiences of all our students and strive to use the skills of reading, writing, and critical thinking to create an environment of diversity, equity and inclusion." As such, the ELA 9 PLC is striving to update our course with texts that will engage our students in reading, inquiry and conversation around systemic inequity.  The direct beneficiaries of this grant are ALL ninth grade students. 

Ryan 86254.png

Amber Zarb, Village Oaks Elementary - “You Can’t Have Equity Without H.E.A.R.T!”: Celebrating Diversity, Equity, and SEL Awareness through a School-Wide PBIS Book Vending Machine -


The purpose of this grant proposal is to synthesize district level initiatives related to diversity, equity, Novi4All, literacy, and social-emotional learning. The goal is to do this work through the expansion of Village Oaks’ Tier 1 school wide-Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports (PBIS) system. Oftentimes, each of the district initiatives are talked about in a “silo” manner. However, this grant proposal will create a space and an opportunity to integrate these initiatives collectively through the framework of our school-wide PBIS system. 

ECEC NEF Jennifer Ellis.png

Lisa Erickson, Novi Meadows - As American as Paneer Pie 


All 6th grade students would benefit from this grant especially student who are struggling to find their voice and who are learning about racial identity. As American as Paneer Pie is a fictional novel about Lekhi, an 11 year old Desi (Indian) girl, who struggles to find her voice. When another Indian girls moves in and a racist incident divides Lekha's town, she has to find a way to speak up and to value all parts of herself. It has incredible messages about friendship, finding your voice, as well as racism from micro-aggressions to more overt harassment. 


Nicholas Ryan, Novi High School - Ambassadors in the Classroom: Legless Lizard...That’s not a Snake?!


I hope to have the ability to bring another ‘ambassador’ to my classroom that will help to make even more connections to the curriculum and beyond. European Legless Lizards, also known as European glass lizards or Scheltopusik, are a species of lizards that do not have any legs.  From these direct observations, students will determine similarities and differences between two animals that resemble each other, but are very different. Students will then use these observations to create a cladogram. This type of activity is very similar to labs done in college biology and evolution courses. The best way to open up and learn is by being engaged with the topic that feels real. Adding an ambassador as unique as a legless lizard will create these learning opportunities throughout the entire year with my students.

Zarb_NEF 86235.png

Jennifer Ellis, Early Child Education Center - Using Literature to Promote Diversity and Anti-Bias in Early Childhood Special Education


The goals of this project are to 1)To promote preschoolers’ developing awareness of diversity/differences. 2) To use Literature and Multicultural toys to lay a foundation for inclusivity 3) To promote relationships between parents and the school community by providing a welcoming environment. The beneficiaries of this project are current and future students that are or who will be enrolled in the Novi Community Schools Early Childhood Special Education Program. 

Jennifer Camilleri, Orchard Hills Elementary - PAWS & DIG Toolkit Positive Attitudes With Social Emotional Learning & Diversity Inclusion Guidance


Orchard Hills teachers are looking for ways to connect with ALL of our students in a variety of ways. As teachers we want to be able to set aside time to build up our classroom culture through fun activities. Using what we know about Social Emotional Learning and Diversity Equity & Inclusion we want to provide a tool kit for each teacher to use throughout the school year to create a safe and nurturing environment for all students. We want teachers to have a variety of activities, literature and lessons to have on hand to support the Emotional Well being of each student. The PAWS & DIG toolkit will promote positive attitudes with social emotional learning and provide diversity inclusion guidance. Specifically, teachers will have the tools to effectively facilitate self-regulation, kindness, responsibility, patience, respect, honesty, organization, diversity, inclusion, & safety. In other words, the PAWS & DIG Toolkit will provide every teacher with the proper materials to teach these skills. The goal is to prepare our students to be successful students who will become culturally responsible citizens in society. 

Camilleri 86261.png

Marsha Reid, Novi High School - Education Modified-a collaborative communication for diverse populations


The direct beneficiaries of this grant would be students with diverse learning needs such as students with IEP's, ESL students, MTSS students and students with 504's. These students and the staff that provide services to this population of students would benefit the most from the implementation of Education Modified. The implementation would demonstrate individualization toward student needs in the classroom with a consistent ability to use effective, research-based and documented strategies that then promote student growth in areas of difficulty. 

Ryan E. Smith, Orchard Hills Elementary - Walking With History Podcast:


Presented by the NEF is a Podcast that will incorporate physical activity while participants listen and then are encouraged to discuss each episode with family and friends while on a walk or hike. 

Smith 86248.png
Shields 86249.png

Sebrina Shields, Novi Adult Transition Center - Advancing Equity Through Food and Culture, Recipes and Stories


The goal of this project is to increase awareness of the Novi Community School District’s diverse population through a curriculum of food and recipes provided by students and their families. The desired outcome will be for Novi Adult Transition students to publish the recipes and stories and make it available across the district. The direct beneficiaries will be Novi Adult Transition students that will assist in the design and implementation of a cookbook of stories and recipes. They will also be exposed to literature and lessons to support diverse cultures presented in the curriculum. To the observer, students will explore and discuss stories written by other Novi students and their families, highlighting the concept of equity and inclusion. As Adult Transition stories, they will also sample and learn kitchen safety and math skills through cooking

Shalini Prasad-Heintz, Village Oaks Elementary - Creating Mirrors and Windows to move towards Equity and Closing the Gap on Literacy Acquisition


The goal is to provide our students with books that are culturally relevant and developmentally appropriate using high interest leveled text to improve reading comprehension during guided reading. Students will be provided with copies of chapter books that showcase main characters of color. A mirror is a story that reflects a student’s own culture and helps them build their identity. A window is a resource that provides the student a view into someone else’s experience. . Students will see main characters that reflect themselves (mirrors) as well as characters that represent other cultures (windows). 

last one.JPG
Robotics 86256.png

Tom Pospeshil, Novi High School - Unified Robotics


Building on Novi High School’s designation as a National Banner Unified Champion School, the NHS robotics team, Frog Force, seeks to bring Unified Robotics to Novi High School and the state of Michigan. Frog Force will begin a league of 12 Unified Robotics teams from Novi and neighboring school districts. Students from the general education population (partners), in this case high school robotics team members, will work alongside students with intellectual disabilities and/or autism (athletes) in small teams of 3 athletes and 3 partners to build a robot using kits made by LEGO®. Each team designs, builds, and programs their own robot meeting once a week over a six-week period. At the Championship, each team presents their robot and its features to judges, then competes in a tournament-style competition. Our goal is to give students with intellectual disabilities and their general education peers a fun and exciting competitive experience where they work together raising awareness, understanding and inclusion in our school and district. Building a robot is just the hook. Introducing STEM concepts, developing teamwork and leadership skills, and building meaningful relationships are the ultimate reward.

Kassia Massey, Orchard Hills Elementary - Staff Social Justice Book Club


This proposal seeks to help teachers and staff think deeply about social justice, specifically racial and socioeconomic justice, through shared texts and brave conversations with colleagues. Our goal is for staff to develop critical understandings of how systemic injustices permeate our schools and classrooms and unintentionally influence our teaching and classroom communities. Our proposed book club will directly benefit our students and families, year after year. 

mASSEY 86276.png

Sarah David, Novi Middle School - Authentic Voices - The Novi Middle School English Language Arts Department proposes a project, “Authentic Voices.”


This project aims to invite underrepresented voices (authors and/or community members of color or non-American nationalities) into our classrooms via Zoom to discuss racism and inequality. We hope that non-white authors and/or community members will share their personal stories of facing racial adversity, giving students a safe arena to have tough conversations. We want to discuss the increasing importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and about racial inequalities that we see elsewhere in our world, especially the racism against Asians and Asian-Americans during the COVID-19 experience. We feel it is imperative to let these conversations flow into our classrooms, and it is a golden opportunity to foster those conversations with authors and speakers of color as well as authors and speakers of non-American nationalities.  We hope students will understand the concept that non-white authors hold an extremely valuable place in the ELA curriculum.


Nicholas LeTarte, Novi High School - Advancing Equity Podcast


We want to purchase podcasting equipment. This equipment would be used to create podcasts that help Novi community members of color express their voices, stories, and history.


Kristin Franchi, Novi High School - Chicks Combating Climate Crisis


The direct beneficiaries of this grant are the students in The Incubator class and the environment. To an observer the implementation of this grant would look like a 5k and a regularly updated social media that is trying to spread awareness/inform people about climate change. The goal of this project is to spread awareness about climate change and to raise money to donate to charity. The desired outcome is a successful 5k and the social media would have gained a considerable following by then, so that more people can be informed about this issue.