Expanding Horizons for Youth
July 23, 2014 6:00 am • STORY AND PHOTOS BY MARK SCHWANINGER, EDITOR
Viking Foundation grant proposals due Oct. 1
Applications are due Oct. 1 for Viking Foundation grants, which will be awarded to 501(c)(3) agencies in December. To apply, go to vikingfoundation.webs.com/contactus.htm.
Founder Steven Eggland, who taught vocational and adult education classes at UNL for 30 years and served as department chairman, comes from a long family tradition of providing financial assistance to people in crises. His great-grandparents moved to Iowa from Norway (hence the Viking Foundation name). They, along with their first- and second-generation offspring, provided food, shelter and financial assistance to Great Depression-era victims, wayward hired hands and elderly caregivers.
Eggland said he created the Viking Foundation in 2012 to ensure that his family’s giving continues in perpetuity. Viking Foundation funds are granted in Lancaster County, Neb., where Eggland resides; Denver County, Colo., where his daughter Erin and her family live; and Polk County, Iowa, where his son Erik and his family reside.
Thanks to generous funding, 80 students at Arnold Elementary School in Lincoln’s Air Park neighborhood attended the Expanding Horizons summer enrichment program free of charge in June and July.
The largest grant, $7,000, was awarded by the Viking Foundation of Lincoln, founded in 2012 by Steven Eggland to help improve and enrich the lives of individuals – especially children – who are less fortunate.
“The Viking Foundation’s funding allows us to keep the program free for all families,” said Dayna Krannawitter, coordinator of the Arnold School Community Learning Center (CLC) and Carol Yoakum Family Resource Center (FRC). “It’s vital to our population to be able to keep it free. The kids also receive reduced-price lunches since it’s a federal Title I program for low-income families.
“Without grants, we wouldn’t have had as many classes or as many kids,” she added. “We probably would have had to look at a fee structure. We’ve discussed ideas like scholarships, but we’re fortunate that we’ve always found funders who believe in our cause.”
Many of the students walk or ride bikes to the summer classes due to parents working and other factors, so having the program in their own neighborhood is beneficial, Krannawitter added.
“These kids would never be able to travel across town to Bright Lights classes due to the travel and cost required,” added Doug Marthaler, tenant services manager with Lincoln Housing Authority (LHA), the lead coordinating agency for the Expanding Horizons summer program.
LHA formed the nonprofit Lincoln Housing Charities in 2002 to obtain grants for LHA tenants like the Arnold CLC and Carol Yoakum FRC, and programs like Expanding Horizons, Marthaler said. Other Expanding Horizons funders include Woods Charitable Fund and Lincoln Community Learning Centers.
“We learned about the Viking Foundation by reading a story in L Magazine last year about a grant the foundation gave to Girls on the Run,” Krannawitter said. “We applied and were fortunate enough to be selected for a grant.”
Now in its third year, the Viking Foundation funded 14 grant proposals totaling $63,500 in 2014 – a 21 percent increase over total grants in 2013, Eggland said.
“I am extremely pleased to have seen a significant jump in both the number of proposals and dollars awarded by our foundation this year,” he said. “The response was tremendous, and every request for a grant would have filled a crucial need. I only wish we could have funded more.”
This year’s grants included $34,500 to eight nonprofit organizations in Lincoln – Lincoln Housing Charities (for Expanding Horizons), $7,000; Bright Lights, $5,000; Center for People in Need, $5,000; Lincoln-Lancaster County Habitat for Humanity, $5,000; Girls on the Run, $4,250; Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), $3,000; Good Neighbor Community Center, $3,000; and Food Bank of Lincoln, $2,250.
The Viking Foundation also awarded $29,000 to six nonprofit organizations in Polk County, Iowa; and Denver County, Colo.
Deciding to fund Expanding Horizons was consistent with the Viking Foundation’s goals and mission, Eggland said.
“The grant to Expanding Horizons was the largest of our 14 grants this year,” he said. “The program serves youth who are disadvantaged geographically, and it’s creative,” he said. “We like the fact that it doesn’t have a lot of administrative costs and that it has to do with education and children. It’s synchronized with our mission.”
As coordinator of the Expanding Horizons summer enrichment program at Arnold School, Krannawitter’s salary is paid by the LHA. Of a dozen teachers in the summer program, half are Arnold School teachers and the rest are provided through cooperation with AmeriCorps, Americorps VISTA, LUX Center for the Arts, Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center, Lincoln Parks & Recreation and others, Krannawitter said. Many of the teachers also lead before- and after-school clubs and programs at the Arnold CLC during the school year.
Intern Autumn Kunze, a Nebraska Wesleyan University student, said she taught “Math Matters” at Expanding Horizons through AmeriCorps her first summer. “Then I just became an intern here after that.”
Ditto for Courtney Smith, a theater studies major at Nebraska Wesleyan, who taught “Fairy Tale Theater” to students in the Expanding Horizons program this summer through AmeriCorps VISTA.
“I feel like we’re helping to grow teachers here,” Krannawitter said.
Expanding Horizons offered classes at Arnold School for three weeks in June and three weeks in July. This summer’s central theme was S.T.E.A.M. – an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math areas of interest. Activities were new every week and different in the two sessions. Students were placed in separate classes for grades 1-3 and 4-6.
“I see it as a time for these kids to explore and really choose what they want to learn about in the summer,” Krannawitter said.
For example, in “Rocketry,” a class taught by Arnold science specialist David Szabat, students design, build and launch their own rockets.
In the “Wild Encounters” class, students are provided transportation and a free lunch at the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center near Denton, Neb. There they investigate what is lurking in the woods, wading in the wetlands and hiding in the tallgrass prairie.
“Fairy Tale Theater” class gives kids in grades 1-3 opportunities to explore basic acting skills and act out their favorite fairy tales. For grades 4-6, “Arnold Theater Presents” teaches students about what goes into a show, like set design and makeup, while providing experience in basic acting skills and a brief history of theater. The class ends with a performance of the show “The Actor Games” by Wade Bradford for parents and friends.
Expanding Horizons offers many other classes. For more information, contact Dayna Krannawitter at 402-436-1120, extension 5, or [email protected]