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Rural School Innovation Grants Awarded


Nora Nolden, Communications Consultant

[email protected] or (651) 245-6804



Compeer Financial Awards 22 Rural Schools Innovation Grants


Sun Prairie, Wis. (July 23, 2021) – The COVID-19 pandemic posed a variety of challenges to rural schools and their communities. Many schools tackled those challenges head on with creativity, innovation and commitment. Compeer Financial, a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative based in the Upper Midwest, partnered with the Rural Schools Collaborative to award $150,211 in Rural Schools Innovation Grants to 22 rural schools that developed exemplary innovative programs during the pandemic, directly impacting 12,888 students.  

The Rural Schools Innovation Grants allowed schools to share what they started doing during the pandemic, and how it worked. The funding will continue to advance these vital programs so more students can benefit from outside-the-box thinking. 

“Even when faced with the unprecedented hardships of COVID-19, rural schools and communities persevered and turned their innovative ideas into reality,” said John Monson, chief mission and marketing officer at Compeer Financial. “By awarding the top innovations with funding, we’re ensuring longevity for these programs and promoting new ways of thinking.”

Grants of up to $10,000 per school district were available through this one-time program. Rural public schools in Compeer Financial’s 144-county territory in parts of Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin were eligible to apply. 

The schools receiving grants include: 


Bright Futures Preschool, Galesburg, Ill.: adding an outdoor classroom space at the school

Central Intermediate, Monmouth, Ill.: engaging students in live and recorded broadcasting, live research, reporting and documentation in the community with place-based learning

Farmington Central CUSD #265, Farmington, Ill.: adding seating and recycling stations to outdoor classroom 

Liberty CUSD #2, Liberty, Ill.: creating an AV program to educate students in basics and in-depth studies in audio and video recording, photography, podcasting, broadcasting and the art of sound 

West Prairie Jr/Sr High School, Sciota, Ill.: nurturing the school culture where students feel connected and valued. Closing the learning gap created by school closing and online learning by focusing on students’ mental well-being first



Eagle View Elementary School, Pequot Lakes, Minn.: adding an outdoor classroom space at the school

Kasson-Mantorville Community Education, Kasson, Minn.: bringing tutors and academic coaches to one-on-one or small groups of students

McGregor K-12, McGregor, Minn.: supporting the creation and distribution of pollinator science kits for families to develop awareness and skills to protect, preserve and promote plants and insects that contribute to pollination and a sustainable and healthier environment

Minnesota New Country School, Henderson, Minn.: adding a mobile kitchen unit, to help students learn healthy ways of preparing and serving the food they have grown in the school’s hydroponic system

Monticello Public Schools, Monticello, Minn.: adding more nature-based education units, adapting traditional classroom lessons to natural learning with the great outdoors as the classroom

Pine Island High School, Pine Island, Minn.: expanding eco-literacy at schools by offering more field kits. Kits include field supplies like clip-on phone microscopes, seed growing materials and other hands-on learning materials

Spring Grove Public Schools, Spring Grove, Minn.: expanding outdoor classroom to a farm-school partnership, working with a local farmer to add a pig as a learning tool



Ellsworth Elementary School, Ellsworth, Wis.: adding warm, waterproof gear for students to wear while engaged in outdoor learning year round

Iowa-Grant, Livingston, Wis.: constructing an outdoor space for learning

Lodi High School, Lodi, Wis.: developing and purchasing equipment for new publication class to produce newscasts, announcements and editorials

Luck High School, Luck, Wis.: supporting school and FFA program to purchase food from local farmers and grow in the school green house

Mellen School, Mellen, Wis.: adding an outdoor structure, tables and benches for outdoor learning

Mineral Point High School, Mineral Point, Wis.: expand opportunities to better meet the production and programming needs of students, staff and community; and adding a class focused on multi-media productions

North Crawford Elementary, Soldiers Grove, Wis.: providing books for students of all grade levels to keep at home 

Potosi Elementary School, Potosi, Wis.: creating permanent sensory paths on playground and adding a sensory path in the hallway. These paths allow students to move, which helps them focus on learning

School District of Turtle Lake, Turtle Lake, Wis.: adding a pavilion and tables to school forest

Wauzeka-Steuben Schools, Wauzeka, Wis.: providing books for students of all grade levels to keep at home 


About Rural Schools Collaborative 
 The Rural Schools Collaborative is a national nonprofit launched in 2015 to build sustainable rural communities. With a keen focus on place, teachers, and philanthropy, RSC's mission is realized through four signature efforts: The Place Network, Rural Teacher Corps, Grants in Place, and Impact Philanthropy. RSC is powered by a small, dedicated staff and board, as well as Regional Hub Partnerships. Learn more at


About the Fund for Rural America
The Compeer Financial Fund for Rural America is the corporate giving program of Compeer Financial, structured to support Compeer Financial’s mission to enrich agriculture and rural America. Compeer Financial’s Board of Directors has dedicated one percent of annual net earnings to support the Fund’s focus areas of agricultural advocacy and development, agriculture education, cooperative initiatives, rural development and community enrichment; and youth engagement. The Fund is managed by a Board of Trustees, made up of team members from Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin and members of the Compeer Financial Board of Directors. More information about opportunities available through the Fund can be found at

About Compeer Financial

Compeer Financial is a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative serving and supporting agriculture and rural communities. The $25.4 billion organization provides loans, leases, risk management and other financial services throughout 144 counties in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Based in the Upper Midwest, Compeer Financial exists to champion the hopes and dreams of rural America, while providing personalized service and expertise to clients and the agriculture industry.

Compeer Financial is the third largest cooperative of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of lending institutions supporting agriculture and rural communities with reliable, consistent credit and financial services. Learn more about Compeer Financial.



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