2019 Spring Grant Awards

VHACF has finalized grants to seven different nonprofit organizations in an effort to assist neighbors in need and to enhance the community.

“We are extremely pleased with the opportunity to support so many of our local organizations in this round of grant making,” stated VHACF Chair Jerry Moynagh. “There were so many applications from diverse areas that were so deserving, leading us to give grants to a near record seven groups.” 

Grants were provided for a variety of projects including to Mounds View Community Theater for its upcoming production of Man of La Mancha, an exciting play adapted from Cervantes’ Don Quixote. This production aims to include area actors and stage hands from all walks of life, giving those with the passion for theater a local outlet. 

The Matoska International School (an International Baccalaureate World School), a WBL 624 elementary school, received a grant to conduct a workshop with employees and staff around social justice and anti-bias in the classroom. “It is so critical that our children receive an education geared towards them. We felt the mission of eliminating bias in our classrooms helped meet that need and we are pleased that we could contribute to this worthy mission,” Moynagh said. 

VHACF also provided a grant to the Willow Lane Elementary School PTO to help provide scholarships for fifth graders to go on an environmental field trip at Camp Icaghowan in Amery for two days. 

Newtrax was provided a grant to expand its community senior circular transportation, which has been a success in helping seniors continue to live in and move about the community.

Rounding out the grants this session also included a grant to the White Bear Center for the Arts’ 2019 White Bear High School Visual Arts Contest and a grant for animal therapy for clients of Merrick, Inc., whose mission is empowering adults with disabilities.

Submitted by Evan Cordes, Board Member, printed in Press Publications

Teacher Grant Funds Educational Travel

A local history teacher will be taking a trip to Florence, Italy, to study Renaissance art and architecture and bring alive the past for his students.

Brian Martinez has been teaching sixth through eighth grade history at Liberty Classical Academy in White Bear Lake for three years. He’s been a teacher for 22 years.

Martinez received the grant, of about $4,500, from Fund for Teachers and the Vadnais Heights Area Community Foundation (VHACF).

“Professionally, it is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Martinez said. “I think it brings the past into the current for students.”

He teaches medieval, Renaissance and Reformation and modern history. Before coming to Liberty, he was not very familiar with the Renaissance and conducted considerable research in order to teach about it, he said. This is why he chose Florence as a place to further his education in person. For one week this summer, he will visit museums and focus on how art and architecture of the era influenced history. He will also take students on field trips in the Twin Cities to see how Minnesota was influenced by Renaissance art and architecture. His experience in Italy will help bring history alive for students, he added.

“There’s just a sense of joy that I have been given this opportunity,” he said.

VHACF has been partnering with Fund for Teachers for nine years, said board member Muriel Janneke. Approximately half of the annual grant is funded by each entity. Any PreK-12 teacher in the White Bear Lake or Mounds View district areas can apply. For two or more teachers working together, the grant can be up to about $10,000.

VHACF has funded several teachers to travel in order to further their expertise on a topic related to their teaching, Janneke said. “By going and experiencing, it brings context to everything you teach,” said VHACF Chair Jerry Moynagh.

The first grant awarded in 2011 was for two teachers to attend a conference in Minnesota, Janneke noted. In 2012, two teachers attended a conference in New York. Beginning in 2013, grant recipients have traveled internationally to Namibia, Argentina, Poland, London, Spain and Iceland. The grant amount was increased in 2016 with the support of Fund for Teachers. This year, Fund for Teachers awarded $2 million in grants to 502 teachers.

Raymond Plank, who grew up in Wayzata, Minnesota, founded Fund for Teachers in 2001. He founded and managed Apache Corporation, a global energy enterprise, for 55 years. Since he founded Fund for Teachers nearly 20 years ago as a way to do something for the community, the fund has given grants to 8,500 teachers nationally.

A Vadnais Heights Area Community Foundation committee selects a local winner of the grant each year. Applications for next year open Oct. 1. For more information on how to apply or donate, visit vhacf.org/fund-for-teachers/. The foundation also supports other local organizations in the Vadnais Heights area.

Liberty Classical Academy history teacher Brian Martinez, center, received a grant of about $4,500 from the Vadnais Heights Area Community Foundation. He is pictured with Rebekah Hagstrom, right, headmaster of the school, and Muriel Janneke, left, advisory board member of the foundation.

Press Publication article by Sara Marie Moore, Editor

2018 Grant Summary

VHACF had a big 2018, having granted thousands of dollars to directly benefit our local community. Grants were given to support the Student Emergency Assistance Fund at Century College,  towards expanding and providing a show choir for local students who may not otherwise be able to pursue their passion for singing, supporting the community theater production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, a scholarship to support a student from AFSA High School to attend college, helping fund elementary school students who have an economic need at Willow Lake to be able to attend a unique learning camp, and funding for the Tubman’s Youth Violence Prevention Program to help combat physical and sexual abuse. 

VHACF also partnered with Fund for Teachers to provide two Oneaka Elementary teachers in Hugo a grant to travel to London for a homestay/school visit experience under the direction of Kayla Denzier.

2017 Wrap Up

In 2017, as in 2016, VHACF continued to receive four times as many grant requests than we are able to fulfill. However, we are pleased to list those recipients we were able to support this past year:

Century College Foundation – Emergency Assistance and Food Pantry for students

Midwest Ski Otters – new stage for their water performances


White Bear Center for the Arts – High School Visual Arts Contest

Northeast Residence – Extended Day program for children and adults with developmental disabilities

City of Vadnais Heights – 2017 Heritage Days

Willow Lane Elementary – Camp Icaghowan scholarships


AFSA – Environmental camp scholarships for 5-8 graders

Newtrax – White Bear Lake Area Senior Shuttle Pilot

Shoreview YMCA – transportation for summer swimming lessons for area 6-8 graders

White Bear Lake High School Senior – Scholarship to Carrie Hunner, to attend Duke University to study Electrical Engineering

Vadnais Heights Lions Club – Emergency Food Shelf

White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf – Onsite Food Pantries at AFSA and Central Middle School

And we are especially pleased for this year’s recipients, Lindsay Lamwers and Matthew Skogen, White Bear Lake science teachers at Sunrise Middle School, who received a $10,000 fellowship from us, in partnership with Fund For Teachers®. They traveled to Iceland in August to study the many tectonic and landform features unique to that country, including volcanoes, glaciers, rift valleys, hot springs and geysers. They used a special 360 degree camera there, while their students back home will be using virtual reality viewers to see amazing up-close videos of walking inside a volcano, actual tectonic plate boundaries, snorkeling the Silfra fissure and more.

#FFTFellow We recently visited the Goðafoss waterfall in Iceland where sunny weather made for some stunning shots of the bright blue churning waters.

A post shared by Mr. Skogen (@mr_skogen) on

Please join with VHACF in helping us to continue to meet the growing needs of our community by donating today!

You may give here or send your tax deductible donation to:

VHACF, PO Box 270502, Vadnais Heights, MN 55127

VHACF Donates to Local Boy Scout Troop

Troop 494 of White Bear Lake, MN is presented a $3000 Grant from the Vadnais Heights Area Community Foundation (VHACF). The check was presented during a ceremony held at Vadnais Heights City Hall. Funds will be used by the Boy Scouts to acquire new camping gear and aid in the purchase of a new trailer required for their day-to-day use. VHACF commends the troop for their thoughtfulness and appreciation as they turned out in great numbers to enjoy rolls and refreshments with VHACF Board members.