Coastal Electric Members donate more than $64,000 to local schools

Thanks to the generosity of Coastal Electric Cooperative members, local teachers recently received more than $40,000 in Bright Ideas grants to fund their innovative project ideas.

In October, Coastal Electric CEO Chris Fettes and staff visited 29 classrooms in Bryan, Liberty and McIntosh counties to bring teachers’ innovative ideas to reality.

Funding for Bright Ideas grants comes from Coastal Electric members who allow their electric bills to be rounded up to the next dollar through the Operation Round Up program. Those nickels and dimes are pooled together and invested back into the community through the Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation.

Since the inception of the Bright Ideas program in 2002, almost half a million dollars has been awarded to give local teachers the power to put their creative teaching ideas into action.

Richmond Hill Middle School (RHMS) won seven Bright Ideas grants this year. Among them was Riley Scheyder’s $1,738.57 project idea to allow students to explore physics by analyzing disc golf frisbees and ultimately creating their own, which will be sent to the Professional Disc Golf Association for approval.

RHMS’s Marinda Walker, Lisa Tuttle, Amanda Flanders, and Ryan Books teamed up to write a $1,935.41 grant proposal that will foster collaboration among STEAM students and special education students. The project idea was sparked when students noticed a decline in the campus bird population, hence the name Home Tweet Home: Habitat Restoration and Inclusivity. The grant will now allow them to take initiative to solve the problem by researching nesting habits, birdhouse sizes, preferred wildflowers and diet before constructing birdhouses and feeders.

McIntosh County Academy boasted four winning Bright Ideas grants this year, including Hayley Napfel’s $1,859.14 project, Inspiring Visual Exploration with a Pinhole Camera. Napfel’s students will construct pinhole cameras and learn to use them, exploring science and art. Students will learn photography fundamentals like light, composition, exposure times and darkroom processes.

Ruby Williford will raise up MCA Entrepreneurs of the Future as students design, manufacture, market, sell and distribute their own school spirit products. Williford says many of her students would like to one day start businesses, and her Bright Ideas grant will give them their first taste of the process.

At Liberty College and Career Academy, Denisia Pope’s Healthcare Science associates will use virtual reality to experience what it’s like to live with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia. Her winning $1,840 grant project, Forget-Me-Not, will build empathy among budding health care professionals and improve health outcomes.

Liberty County High School students will create how-to YouTube videos to serve as guides for local citizens in search of employment as part of Dr. Susan McCormack’s Together We Can grant project. As a result, students will not only invest in their community, but learn business skills like goal setting, action plans and project development.

Students at Button Gwinnett Elementary School will Snap Into Science and Writing, thanks to Tracie Chavis’ $859.73 winning Bright Ideas grant. Each student will receive a bottle of Snapple, which they will use to participate in research projects based on fun facts found under Snapple lids. Students will reuse the bottles for a variety of science experiments.

In addition to Bright Ideas grants, the Coastal Electric Cooperative Foundation awarded $1,000 checks to 24 principals in Bryan, Liberty and McIntosh counties to be donated to principal funds, with the intention that the monies would be used to meet students’ and teachers’ needs throughout the school year.

To learn more about this year’s Bright Ideas grant winners and principal funds, connect with Coastal Electric on Facebook, Instagram and X.