Eugene Field has been awarded three grants so far this year

When it comes to the pursuit of grants Eugene Field Elementary School takes a backseat to no one in the Hannibal public school district. As of mid January eight grants, totaling over $13,000, had been written in behalf of the school with three, amounting to just over $1,000, having been received.

“Grant writing provides many opportunities to not only secure additional funding, but also share your goals and message with lots of different organizations and individuals,” said Meghan Karr, who is in her first year as principal at Eugene Field after serving five years as principal at the district's Early Childhood Center.

Eugene Field now has its sights set on its biggest grant prize of the school year – a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant which is administered by the Department of Natural Resources.

According to Rich Stilley, business manager for the school district, “somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000” will be sought.

The grant would come with some stipulations.

“It is a 50-50 match, with two years to complete the project after the awarding of the grant,” said Karr.

That local match would be the school's responsibility, according to Karr.

“Staff has been working diligently on fund-raising efforts and grants,” she said. “In addition, in-kind hours can be applied as part of the match, meaning work/time we put into the project can be counted as part of the matching donation.”

Stilley reports that the grant money would be used for playground space and equipment at the school.

“The grant specializes in this type of outdoor projects,” he said.

The grant money, if awarded, would address a need at the school.

“Much of the playground equipment is up to 20 years old,” said Karr. “We would like to update the current equipment and include newer pieces that address sensory needs and provide opportunities for our students.

“Eugene Field is really more than just an elementary school. It encompasses a community and the new playground will be a great place for families and students to enjoy outside of school hours as well.”

Karr is still working on the grant application.

“The application is still in the drafting process, I will be working to get a completed draft ready for a preliminary review in early February,” she said. “This is a very in-depth grant, but a fantastic opportunity to hopefully secure additional funds for the new playground. Since the grant process includes both state and federal level portions, there are different requirements to make sure we address.”

Seeking the grant has the blessing of the school board, which voted unanimously at its Jan. 17 meeting to allow Karr to pursue the funds.

“It is a requirement of the grant application to show the support of the funding from the district level,” explained Stilley.

Stilley, who saluted Karr and her staff for “all of their hard work on this opportunity,” says the awarding of the grant won't happen immediately.

“It will be several months,” he said. “The deadline to submit is in mid-February.”

Is Karr optimistic?

“I think we have every reason to feel positive. We have great students, family, and staff working hard to move our playground project forward. I am hopeful that our hard work will pay off,” she said.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com