Walton EMC Awards School EmPOWERment Grants

Educators from 34 area schools share $241,500 in donations

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MONROE, GA. — Walton EMC is lighting up learning in K-12 classrooms within its 10-county service area. Cooperative representatives delivered checks totaling more than $241,500 to public and private school educators whose innovative ideas for creative learning projects were selected to receive a grant.

This is the seventh year the co-op’s School EmPOWERment Grant program has provided financial support to provide programs and materials to enhance academic, arts and athletics programming at area schools. The 2023 grants were awarded for 46 different projects at 34 schools.

New recipients plan to use their grants to enhance education with everything from books to bots to barns, said Walton EMC’s Jennifer Broun, who oversees the School EmPOWERment program.

“Many of these instructional projects wouldn’t happen without these grants because local systems don’t have funds for them in their regular operating budgets,” she said.

Money for the grants comes from capital credit refunds that go unclaimed by former co-op customer-owners. After Walton EMC exhausts all efforts to find the rightful owners of the refunds, Georgia law allows the money to be used for community benefit.

This year’s grants bring the all-time total awarded to more than $2.3 million.

“After providing reliable and reasonably-priced electric power, serving our community is next on the list,” said Walton EMC COO Ron Marshall. “Our School EmPOWERment Grant program is a perfect example of the cooperative principle ‘concern for community.’”


2023 Walton EMC School EmPOWERment Grants


Total distribution: $241,589
Average grant: $5,252
Number of grants: 46
Schools receiving grants: 34
Total since beginning of program: $2,301,676
Source of money: unclaimed refunds


2023 School Empowerment Grant Recipients

The 2023 grants by county are:



Barrow Arts and Sciences Academy      

Gretchen Hollingsworth, Bringing People Together Through Music and Technology, $3,178



Whit Davis Elementary School  

Lauren Knowlton, Wildcats Wander & Read: A Spectacular Story Walk Enhancement, $3,500


Annistown Elementary School   

Jocerlyn Hickson, Inchy the Bookworm Book Vending Machine, $9,000


Craig Elementary School          

Chris Locke, Nik-Cole Austin, STEPS program, $9,721

Grace Snell Middle School

Kimberly Arenas, Cooking Club, $5,000

Gwin Oaks Elementary School

Sharon Amolo, Are You Up for the Challenge?, $5,793

Harbins Elementary School      

Joel Frey, Tigers Roar and Tigers Soar, $5,500

Pharr Elementary School          

Sarah Powell, Book Vending Machine Replenishment, $2,500

R.D. Head Elementary School

Jessica Gaskin, Promoting Kindness Through Literacy, $576

Shann Griffith & Joe Gusmerotti, REC TREK!, $3,617

Shiloh Elementary School

Frances Bishop, Reading and Imagination through Computer Science, $5,000

Trickum Middle School

Kathryn Mullen, Fun with Circuits and Magnets, $2,738

Jennifer Killian, Graphic Drawing Tablets, $1,675

Trip Elementary School

Leslie Grubbs, We Want a Ticket to the Hollywood of the South!, $1,300


Athens Academy

David Nelson, The Study of Motion Lab Equipment, $6,093

Colham Ferry Elementary School

Lea Pacut & Jennifer Mitchem, Growing Readers and Writers, $5,095

Dove Creek Elementary School

Julie McCullers & Jennifer Mellina, Inchy the Bookworm Book Vending Machine, $6,890

Maggie Paine & Heather Bui, Decodable Readers, $1,650

High Shoals Elementary School

Elizabeth Turner, High-Interest Readers, $8,205

Malcom Bridge Middle School  

Jana Hester, Family and Consumer Sciences Lab Range Replacement, $5,000

Oconee County High School     

Chelsea Begnaud, Gracious Gardens: Warriors Fighting Food Insecurity, $12,067

Evanthia Christoforou, French Classroom Library, $477


Oconee County Middle School  

Ann Blaauw, OCMS Sewing Club, $1,370

Elizabeth Poole, Cells & Ecology Units Microscope Labs, $1,017

Oconee County Primary School

Rebecca Barrett & Jessica Gambrell, Kindergarten Classroom Decodable Readers, $2,957

Shannon Wiley & Ashley Golliher, Decodable Reader Room Book Expansion, $4,879

Maria Koch, Literature Bots, $3,474

Rocky Branch Elementary School          

Kendra Skinner & Christina Crowe, Closing Gaps Through Guided Reading, $9,600

Merci Johnson, To Grow or Not to Grow, $503

Derry Rogers & Rachelle Simpson, Room Transformation Kits, $1,917

Saint Joseph Catholic School

Dr. Theresa Napoli Bangert, New Playground PreK-8th Grade, $11,370


Carver Middle School

Shanda Wise, PBIS, $3,000

George Walton Academy                      

Mark Gasaway, Middle School Robotics Program Update, $5,000

Cara Benfield, Modern Biotechnology in Biology, $2,693

Harmony Elementary School    

Toye Powell, Cultivate to Innovate, $2,137

Loganville Christian Academy  

Jacquelynne McClelland, Biology & Chemistry Laboratory Enhancements, $6,495

Loganville High School

Sean Bryant, Livestock Barn, $20,000

Loganville Middle School         

Heather Wills & Amber Dillard & Anna Earnest, Counseling Suite, $3,500

Monroe Elementary School                   

Dr. Zeester Swint, Book Vending Machine, $6,000

Sharon Elementary School

Caroline Brack, Adaptive Playground, $22,480

Social Circle High School         

Molly Tyree, Listen and Learn, $1,908

Walnut Grove Elementary School          

Libby Haulk & Lucy Townley, Book Vending Machine, $8,000

Walnut Grove High School

Seema Parveen, Critical Thinking and Engagement, $2,094

Hilery Wilson, Learning the Great Outdoors, $3,000

Youth Elementary School          

Lora Alligood, High-Interest, Low-Level Books, $5,880

Katie Braselton, Book Vending Machine & Books, $7,740

About Walton EMC
Walton EMC is an innovative, customer-owned and -focused electric utility serving accounts in 10 Northeast Georgia counties between Atlanta and Athens. In its long history of meeting customer-owners’ needs, the cooperative established successful natural gas and security subsidiaries as well as nationally recognized solar initiatives. For more information, visit waltonemc.com and follow on Facebook.


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