Park City Education Foundation ponies up more than $150,000 for schools |

Park City Education Foundation ponies up more than $150,000 for schools

Janice Ugaki’s favorite grant the Park City Education Foundation funded this spring was far from the largest.

The grant, called Wild Wonders, will provide hands-on experiences with animals and reptiles for kindergarten students at Trailside Elementary School. The cost of the program is $840, but the value it will provide is much larger than that.

"It really inspires kids to write about something that’s exciting, that’s a little different," said Ugaki, chair of the PCEF grant committee. "They don’t even realize that they’re learning as they’re doing it, or that they’re really working on their writing and analytical skills. And they’re also learning about science. Little grants like that really open my eyes to the very creative thinking in the school district on the part of schools and teachers."

The Wild Wonders grant was among 24 the PCEF recently funded in its annual school grant program. The program aims to provide money for initiatives that will affect entire grades of students or whole schools. Ugaki said most of the grants, which cost more than $150,000 in total, could not exist without the PCEF.

"We have actually funded programs that touch every school in the entire school district," she said. "That’s amazing and really a phenomenal achievement."

Matt Nagel, a teacher at Park City High School, knows firsthand how important the school grant program is. He wrote grant applications this year for study materials for the debate and academic decathlon teams, which will allow them to be competitive on a statewide level.

"It’s a great thing for me because now I don’t have to worry about taking (the money) out of department funds or book budgets," he said. "It means we get to actually do our thing."

Ugaki is also particularly proud of a grant that will pay for college visits for at risk and disabled students.

"Being able to have students say, ‘Hey, there’s no one in my family who’s ever gone to college before. I don’t even know what to expect,’" she said. "To open their horizons like that, and to open those opportunities to them is amazing."

Other initiatives the PCEF is funding include hiring a Latino outreach coordinator at Ecker Hill Middle School, a camping trip for students and staff at the Park City Learning Center and a virtual reality program at Trailside Elementary School.

None of the programs would be possible, Ugaki said, without those who donate to the PCEF throughout the year.

"It’s such a huge impact on the community as a whole, not only from the perspective of the schools and education, but from the perspective of philanthropists in the community," she said. "It really makes them feel much more part of the community."

For more information on the PCEF, visit

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