Sandburg Foundation awards $88K in innovation grants

GALESBURG — The Carl Sandburg College Foundation recently awarded 12 innovation grants totaling $88,500 to be used toward new initiatives that drive student success.

All Sandburg faculty, staff and instructional departments designed projects of $1,000-$6,000 as a once-a-year opportunity to launch new and innovative ventures. The total amount awarded this year represented an increase of more than $55,000 from 2023.

“The foundation is able to make these innovation grants available in part because of donor generosity,” said Eric Johnson, chief advancement officer for the Sandburg Foundation. “We’re eager to partner and play a role in developing innovations that positively impact student success, our communities, industry and the district. We had a tremendous pool of applicants this year that set the bar high for future innovation grant funding cycles. It was a tough decision for our review committee with plenty of thought and discussion supporting the proposed initiatives.”

Innovation grant funds were awarded for the following projects:

Library shelving refresh — Library

The shelving refresh project introduces several innovative features to enhance and optimize space in the Sandburg library. The beginning phase will transform the library shelving system into a more dynamic, user-centric space that embraces technology, provides better accessibility, fosters collaboration and improves the overall library experience for all who use the space.

Hands-on Vernier STEM equipment — Math & Natural Sciences
The hands-on Vernier learning STEM equipment offers a groundbreaking approach to teaching and learning through a fusion of technology, interactivity and real-world experimentation. Vernier is at the forefront of educational technology, revolutionizing the way physics, astronomy and other STEM classes are taught and learned. By combining innovative features with practical experimentation, it better empowers students to explore and understand the fundamental principles of physics in a more dynamic and engaging manner.

Nursing simulation laptops — Nursing
Five new Latitude 5340 laptops for the nursing simulation lab in the new Science & Technology Center will enhance the functionality and effectiveness of the facility. The laptops will improve students' medication administration and documentation by adding experiential learning to knowledge acquired in the dosage calculation course by providing a realistic bedside experience during simulation sessions.

Swing Caddie (SC)-300i golf launch monitors — Athletics (men’s and women’s golf)
Incorporating three SC-300i launch monitors into golf team practices and competitions will revolutionize training for student-athletes, giving them a wealth of accurate and immediate data that empowers players to refine their skills and helps coaches to optimize team performance. The SC-300i monitors provide yardage, ball speed, swing speed, launch angle, smash factor and apex data, which are currently unavailable to the men’s and women’s golf teams during their outdoor practices.

Portable inflatable projection screen — Information Services
This portable projection screen will help enrich campus life, promote community engagement and offer a versatile platform for various events and activities. The college previously rented an equivalent setup for student life and community events, meaning the acquisition of this system will provide cost efficiency.

Solar astronomy technology — Math & Natural Sciences
Two new solar telescopes will provide numerous benefits for students, offering a unique and engaging way to explore the sun. This technology has specialized filters that allow students to view solar features without risking eye damage, ensuring a secure and controlled observational experience when viewing solar flares and active solar regions. Grant funding also was used by the department to purchase glasses for the recent solar eclipse.

Loft cafeteria renovation — Student Life
Members of Sandburg’s Student Government Association came forward this year with an idea to refresh the Loft cafeteria space. SGA members recognized it as an under-utilized space with great potential to serve their peers and the college in numerous ways. The project includes brighter paint and flooring; more natural light; adjusted lighting fixtures for better illumination; new furniture for individual or group gatherings; and attractive seating and workspaces that encourage students to stay on campus while maintaining a flexible area that can be enjoyed by everyone.

Synergy video enhancements — Athletics (baseball)
The Synergy video logging platform offers numerous advantages, including detailed performance analysis, strategic game planning, player development, data-driven performance metrics and enhanced post-game and practice analysis. Synergy provides in-depth video analysis, allowing coaches to break down player performance frame by frame, precisely identifying strengths and areas for improvement.

CPR feedback training manikins and AEDs — Fitness Center
This includes six CPR training manikins and six automated external defibrillators (AEDs). The CPR manikins offer immediate feedback via an app on the efficacy of the skills being performed, such as chest recoil and compression depth and rate. These tools provide learners with real-time guidance, foster confidence and contribute to improved survival rates in critical situations. This equipment will be used every time there is a CPR class administered through the college.

Nomad dental X-ray imaging devices — Dental hygiene
The addition of two Nomads will broaden students’ experiences, employability and exposure to innovative technology. They will provide the opportunity for instructors to train current and future students with the most recent technology being used for dental X-ray imaging. In addition, they will complement other features of the dental hygiene program’s home in the new Science & Technology Center with their ability to be used on the clinical floor and serve as a mobile demonstration model for any classroom or laboratory. The Nomad also provides superior imaging for patients.

Career pathway exploration initiative — Workforce Development & Community Education
The career pathway exploration initiative workshops will introduce participants at Monmouth's Recharge Teen Center to a variety of career opportunities and the corresponding educational pathways offered by Sandburg. This project empowers teens with the knowledge and experience needed to envision their future careers and understand how Sandburg can facilitate their journey toward achieving their goals professionally. These workshops will give teens an immersive experience in various career fields, including health care, technology, trades and business. Each session will offer insights into different professions and highlight the specific programs and credentials Sandburg offers that align with those careers. Through interactive sessions, guest speakers from the industry and hands-on activities, teens will gain a comprehensive understanding of each career and the educational steps needed to get there.

eSkill workforce assessment — Workforce Development & Community Education
eSkill is a subscription-based program already used by Sandburg that offers customized tests across various disciplines including construction, welding, technical computer applications and health care. In continuing this service, Sandburg can use data analysis to identify specific training needs, enhancing the college’s ability to design collaborative corporate training programs. eSkill has proven instrumental for several students, particularly those competing in the SkillsUSA state contest. By customizing tests to match SkillsUSA standards and competition scoring, Sandburg has significantly enhanced students' preparedness for these knowledge-based tests.

For more information about innovation grants or to make a gift in support of this initiative, contact Eric Johnson at or 309.341.5349.