The Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) distributes 30 Classroom Assistance grants each year in the amount of $500 each. Since 2008, TRTF has provided $93,000 in grants to 186 active educators all across Texas.

Denise Sanders, a biomedical sciences teacher at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, was among the award recipients this year.

Sanders’ students are engaging in a genetic engineering project in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin. The purpose of the project is to replicate a genetic mutation within a DNA strand. Sanders said the students are creating what’s known as an “expression vector.”

Sanders said the project prepares the students for college by providing them with a “freshman research initiative as seniors in high school.” Currently, the students are going through the project in the high school lab, but eventually, the students will carry over their work to a lab at the University of Texas campus.

One of the key lessons that Sanders hopes her students take away from the project is how to “power through” failure. “Things don’t always work the way you want them to,” she said. “That happens a lot in this class… In this class, if it doesn’t work, we have to sit and think what we need to change.”

Sanders put the $500 she received from TRTF towards purchasing lab equipment for her students. In particular, she found micropipettors for her lab. Micropipettors are extremely useful in her students’ lab work. Sanders was excited to receive the grant money to fund her lab, and she appreciated that the money wasn’t tied to the school district.

“This gave me the freedom to buy things from sources that I wouldn’t normally be able to buy from, which made the money go a lot further,” she said. “It was really empowering to me to spend my own money where I wanted.”

Donate Today!

TRTF’s grants are powered by retired educator donations! Foundation month is a time for giving, and the donations made go straight into programs like the Classroom Assistance grants. Please consider donating today, and help us make a difference in classrooms all across Texas!

Applications Now Available!

Applications for the 2020 Classroom Assistance Grant program are now available online! You may download one by clicking here. Be sure to share with any active educators you know. The submission deadline is February 27, 2020.