Ecolab Foundation Puts Cash in Classrooms

Ecolab Foundation, which was established by its corporate namesake in 1986 focuses on “educational, cultural, environmental, and community development programs that are good for business and good for society.”

The educational front is Ecolab Foundation's largest giving focus, and its Visions for Learning program is the primary vehicle for dispensing education grants.

In short, Visions for Learning grants provide K-12 teachers with “funds to obtain additional materials to help enrich the classroom experience.” In more detail, Visions for Learning actually supports multiple types of school educators—yes, classroom teachers, but also paraprofessionals, administrators, and other licensed staff. So there’s room for creativity in programming. In fact, the foundation requests that creativity, along with innovation to challenge and motivate students, raise their achievement levels, “increase their understanding of academic content," and benefit their abilities to make connections between the classroom and life.

Ecolab Foundation's corporate parent describes itself as a “global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services," so it should be no surprise that the foundation's support of education prioritizes STEM education. It also prioritizes college and career readiness, and particularly looks to support at-risk student populations.

Visions for Learning grants range from $100 to $3,000, dependent on the needs of the proposed project. In 2014, this amounted to $1 million going to 270 schools. Some schools garnered awards for multiple classrooms. In fact, Garland Independent School District in north Texas garnered a whopping 47 of these grants in 2014. A sampling of the district's winning projects will give you a sense of the Vision for Learning program's scope and intention:

  • $3,000 for Mathematics Readers Kits used with small group intervention students;
  • $3,000 for after school Taekwondo uniforms and equipment;
  • $2,546 for a series of eBooks utilizing super heroes to illustrate science concepts;
  • $2,280 for welding equipment to supplement a manufacturing curriculum;
  • $2,000 for 20 hand held Webster's 3rd New International Dictionaries to assist ELL students with vocabulary and writing;
  • $1,360 for 75 copies of The Book Thief, followed by a field to the Holocaust Museum;
  • $734 for The WhyTry Program, which uses visual metaphors to teach social, emotional, and leadership principles;
  • $582 for plants and supplies to build a garden wall and raised garden bed to be maintained by students;
  • $315 for a one-year subscription to Flocabulary, allowing online access to songs, videos and activities designed to engage reluctant learners;
  • $312 for interactive board games that teach fundamentals of budgeting and managing income in the real world;
  • $260 for puzzles to improve reasoning, logical thinking, fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.

Like all Ecolab Foundation giving, Visions for Learning programs must take place in schools within the corporation's 15 regional communities, or at its headquarters in St. Paul, MN. The application process is online in April for funding distributed the following school year.