Innovation Grant LogoThe Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) defines innovation as the process of trying something new or different that has the potential to address an identified need and produce better outcomes for students. The purpose of MMSD’s Innovation Grant Program is to foster innovation within MMSD by providing schools with funding to support the planning and implementation of an innovative school-based project for one to two school years.


2016-2018 Grants


East High School, The Mentor Project ($26,000)

Generously supported by the MG&E Foundation

The Mentor Project, a combination and expansion of several existing East High School mentoring opportunities, is designed to build a strong, sustainable schoolwide structure to support the successful transition of African American young women and men to 9th grade. Our goals are to increase 9th Grade On Track results, improve GPA, attendance and, ultimately, graduation rates for African American students.  We hope to use peer and adult mentoring partnerships to build relationships, engagement, and academic success for our mentees.  The Mentor Project Team will include staff, students, and community members who will collaborate to develop a clear mentoring “umbrella” under which all of East’s mentoring efforts will be coordinated and monitored.  The team will develop program goals, student identification criteria, progress monitoring tools, and a communication plan in order to connect students with the mentoring support they will most benefit from.  Over two years, The Mentor Project will put the supports in place to systematize and expand The Brotherhood, The Sisterhood, Mentor A Purgolder, and Purgolder Point Person. Our overriding goal, as we support more students to succeed in high school, is to provide concrete supports that help contribute to the development of an East High culture where African American academic success is the norm.


Building Community and Capacity for Learning Through Intellectually and Culturally Responsive Play-based Teaching, Huegel Elementary School ($24,000)

Generously supported by Attic Angels Prairie Point

The goal of this project is to expand upon the 4K early childhood programming at Huegel Elementary by offering play-based learning events, which we are calling ‘play parties,’ to families with young children in the Huegel area.  Huegel has a strong, play-based 4K program, but it is quite small.  Due to the limitations of the physical building, Huegel is only able to have one morning and one afternoon section, maxing out at thirty-six children in total.  Our lack of space is displacing families with school-aged children across multiple sites. It is our intent that all Huegel families who live in the Huegel attendance area feel as if they belong and are a part of our great Huegel community.  We plan to achieve this goal in two ways: implement a program that reaches out to families with 4K children at other sites as well as reaching out to families before the start of our current school age of four.  We are including the ages of three to six, to truly encompass early childhood education. In doing so we are strengthening our current family outreach activities required at the 4K level and continuing play-based learning for our 5K students.  In addition, by expanding the play parties to three year olds, we are providing more learning opportunities while at the same time, opening up our school to families prior to the school age of four, welcoming these families to Huegel, building those strong family relationships even earlier. Through regularly scheduled evening events, or play parties, we will bring these families into our school and share strategies, experiences, and materials through culturally responsive play-based learning modeled by teaching staff.  Some of the materials available at the play parties will be available for check-out in the form of a kit.  Families can preview the kits/materials at the play parties and then take kits home, with the intention of supplementing the learning that already takes place in the home.  By incorporating all of these steps, Huegel will be reaching a wider range of early learners all while strengthening school-family connections at Huegel. 


Strengthening 4K Summer School Experience and Family Engagement, Office of Early and Extended Learning ($24,000)

Generously supported by Attic Angels Prairie Point

The Office of Early and Extended Learning seeks to redesign the 4K summer school experience with a focus on transition to 5K and parent outreach. This project will engage 4K summer school teachers and 5K teachers and a diverse family focus group as participants in the planning and development of the redesign focused initially on two summer school sites. The redesign will draw on 4K skills and bridging those to 5k, include a family engagement component and envision a bridging effort that involves students’ future 5K teachers. In addition, the committee will plan and develop an approach to strengthen 4K family relationships with MMSD schools. Initially, we envision collaboration between schools and community agencies through family events focused on understanding MMSD, the 4K experience, tools for families to connect with 4K sites.


2015-2017 Grants


Memorial High School - Restorative Center: Transforming school culture through a collaborative, restorative approach ($30,000)

Generously supported by the MG&E Foundation

Memorial peace roomMemorial High School is creating an infrastructure to shift to a restorative approach school-wide. This approach uses inclusive, collaborative practices to build communities in which the experiences and needs of everyone are validated, particularly those who have been marginalized or oppressed. The comprehensive approach will result in positive relationships, a sense of belonging in community, and a greater sense of agency among all members; and has been a model proven to reduce racial disproportionality in school discipline.


La Follette High School - Growing Mindfulness Practices for La Follette High School and Our Community ($23,000)

Generously supported by the MG&E Foundation

La Follette students practicing mindfulnessLa Follette is engaging community, regional, and national partners to develop an innovative program to bring mindfulness practices to high school students and staff. The goal of the program is to promote social-emotional learning, which influences academic achievement, but it has the potential to reduce the need for disciplinary actions, develop positive relationships among youth, and specifically improve grades, attendance, and engagement in school.  This project will inform the work of the Student Services department in exploring approaches to and impact of mindfulness practices that hold promise in yielding positive results for staff and students across our schools.


2014-2016 Grants


Gompers – Elementary Restorative Justice Initiative ($50,000)

Generously supported by the MG&E Foundation

restorative circlesThis project, led in collaboration with the YWCA Madison, aimed to unify school-wide interventions, social emotional teaching and reinforcement of Positive Behavior Systems through staff professional development, 4th and 5th grade circle keeper training, restorative justice club and circle implementation. Restorative practices are being implemented in middle and high schools in MMSD, but had previously never been implemented at the elementary level. This work informs the district’s vision around the future of restorative practice within elementary schools.


Thoreau – Parent Engagement Project ($9,500)

Generously supported by the MG&E Foundation

parents meeting with teacher at a tableThoreau Elementary aimed to increase family engagement, especially for Latino parents whose primary language is Spanish, by implementing a new approach to parent-teacher conferences modeled after “Academic Parent-Teacher Teams” and offering the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) Parent School Partnership training program. This project informs the district’s improvements for parent-teacher conferences and practices within Parent Academy.