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xMinds Logo - xMinds in teal and dark blue where the X looks like a person with an orange head; followed by the words Partnership for Extraordinary MindsImproving education for autistic students in Montgomery County, MD

Past Educator Grant Recipients

2022–2023 Grant Recipients

xMinds continued its popular “Cash for Your Classroom” campaign in 2022-23, distributing nearly $10,000 to 95 educators of autistic students in Montgomery County. We awarded 87 grants, each up to $100, to help educators purchase materials that support autistic students. We awarded another eight grants, each up to $250, for trainings on how to support autistic learners.

Grantees purchased a range of teaching materials with the funds, everything from the Zones of Regulation curriculum to help students develop self-regulation and emotional control, to household items, including a countertop burner, silverware, and a clothing rack, to teach life skills to secondary school students. Sensory materials were particularly popular, with teachers using their funds to purchase hammock chairs, stress balls, Play-Doh, sensory string, and more.

Educators who received grants toward trainings, tapped into a number of different programs, including the Learn It Today, Use It Tomorrow! course on improving students' executive function skills and the Meaningful Speech course on how to support children with delayed echolalia (scripting).

2021–2022 Grant Recipients

In 2021–22, xMinds distributed nearly $18,000 to 165 Montgomery County educators to purchase classroom materials geared toward autistic students and attend trainings on how to better support these learners. Thanks to our generous donors, we increased funding this school year and helped more educators than ever before. We were thrilled to receive a $9,250 grant from the Women Who Care of Lower Montgomery County giving circle, who recognized the importance of our work.

We started the school year with our Cash for Classrooms campaign, which awarded grants of up to $100 to purchase materials that support autistic students, such as noise-canceling headphones, weighted vests, fidgets, beanbag chairs, standing desks, wobble stools, hand-strengthening tools to help with handwriting, and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) apps that help nonverbal students express themselves. With the need for classroom supports still pressing, we launched our Winter Wish List campaign to supply more classroom materials and fund professional trainings. One educator used the funds to earn certification as an Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinical Specialist, while another is attending a weeklong institute on using AAC with students who have Cortical Visual Impairment. After a year of virtual education, MoCo educators were excited this year to be back in the classroom with much-needed hands-on materials and fresh teaching strategies.

Photos: (Top) Elizabeth Nardin, a teacher in the School Community Based program at Gaithersburg High School, put her grant toward a yearlong project in which her students built a Butterfly Sensory Garden. The students engaged in job skills and created a peaceful spot at the school for students to enjoy. (Bottom) Michelle Kerbel used her grant to purchase daily planners to keep her students organized and help them develop executive functioning skills.

2020 Grant Recipients

In February 2020, xMinds awarded two MCPS educators grants to attend the NESTCON2020 conference in New York City. NestCon is a bi-annual conference to share lessons learned in the highly-successful New York City Public School system’s Autism inclusion program called “ASD Nest.” MCPS instructional specialist Dr. Susan Mason and MCPS special education teacher Claire Lanham joined xMinds Executive Director, Sue Keisler, and xMinds Advisory Board member, Monica Martinez, at the conference. We heard from educators, researchers, administrators, and autistic self-advocates who were involved with the Nest Program. We were also excited when we learned that New York University, who provides professional development and support to the Nest program, will launch a new program in September to support schools that want to start their own ASD Nest programs.

In October 2020, xMinds funded 11 para-educators and 1 occupational therapist to attend the 7th Annual Innovators in Education Conference, titled Emotions Count: From Research to Practice.  All the grant recipients support autistic students in MCPS, some in special education programs and some in general education. They heard speakers present on a range of important topics, such as the importance of friendships in learning, how to encourage internal motivation, how to support mental wellness with positive psychology and understanding anxiety.

2019 Grant Recipients

Sligo Creek Elementary School hired two new teachers for their Asperger Program for the 2019-2020 school year. Thanks to an xMinds Educator grant, Marguerite Fitch and Liana Rouse, were able to attend Unstuck and On Target training at the Ivymount School before the start of the school year. Unstuck and On Target is a foundational intervention for the MCPS Asperger program.


 In October 2019, xMinds partnered with the Center for Communication and Learning to fund MCPS educators to attend the 6th Annual Innovators in Education Conference. Thanks to xMinds, the staff of the Brook Grove Elementary School Learning Center were able to attend the conference as a team to learn cutting age strategies for their Learning Center teaching students.  


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