GREENVILLE — It was a tip from a teacher who avidly watches The Ellen DeGeneres Show that led to Baldwin Heights Elementary School receiving a $100,000 grant from Target.
“(The Target representative) had to tell me six times over the phone that this was not a joke, that our elementary school really won,” said Michael Walsh, Baldwin Heights Elementary School principal.
Walsh said the teacher had seen the information from The Ellen DeGeneres Show where viewers were asked to submit the name of a school along a compelling story explaining why they felt the school should received the grant from Target.
After reading up on the information, Walsh said he did not hesitate to apply.
“I thought it would be a fun opportunity and the money would give us opportunities that the budget could cover,” he said. “It feels like we won the lottery.”
In order to tell the staff members at Baldwin Heights, Walsh said he announced there was going to be an emergency staff meeting, but did not say much more until everyone was together.
He slowly told the staff that he applied and was officially told the school had been selected to win the grant money.
“They looked excited, but they did not know how much we were getting,” Walsh said. “When I told them it was for $100,000 they went crazy.”
The school could see the money as soon as next week, Walsh said, but has not received the official word of when or how the money will be presented to the school.
According to a press release from Target, the grant is to be used to purchase resources to improve the school’s learning environment.
Walsh said he wants to work with the community to decide how the money is spent.
“I want a team of staff members, parents and students to have an input,” Walsh said. “It’s a community effort.”
Walsh said he knows putting a team together to discuss how the money should be spent will take a lot of time, but said it is the right thing to do.
“It’s very important to me,” he said.
Although there were 48 individual schools and two more school districts that received a $100,000 grant from Target, Baldwin Heights was the only school in Michigan that was selected.
He said while writing the description to submit to the show, he could only use 2,500 words.
Walsh said he believes it was the staff and their description of what they do that got the school the grant.
“We have a special kind of staff and their story is what put us over the top,” Walsh said. “They continue to impact the kinds in ways we have never seen before. I couldn’t be more thrilled about it.”