Foundation funds 43 grants worth $26,480 The “Watch Minder” is technology that enables a teacher to communicate with a student during class time through direct messaging that doesn’t disrupt other students, and it’s one example of innovation in Rockford schools that’s being funded by Rockford Education Foundation (REF) grants. The Watch Minder sends a vibration to signal students they have a message. This is valuable for students who need reinforcement to stay on task or praise for completing an assignment on time. It’s a project that has just been funded by the REF during its winter grant review. This program is one of 43 grants totaling $26,480.00 that were awarded by REF in January. REF’s mission is to fund grants that will increase educational opportunities for people of all ages in the Rockford community. Fall and winter grants were awarded this year to Assumption School; Belmont, Cannonsburg Crestwood, Lakes, MeadowRidge, Parkside, Roguewood, and Valley View elementary schools; Our Lady of Consolation School; Roguewood Spanish Immersion; North and East Rockford middle schools; Rockford Freshman Center; Rockford Community Services; Rockford High School; Rockford Christian School and River Valley Academy. The foundation is funded by gifts from individuals, businesses and organizations. The REF awards grants twice yearly and has awarded just over $900,000 in grant money to the Rockford community since its founding in 1991. The foundation has several fundraisers throughout the year, including its annual Phone-a-thon February 15-17. Volunteers will be calling Rockford area residents asking them to consider donating to REF. For information on the REF, visit www.rockfordschools.org/ref.