The York County Alliance for Learning is looking to help fund teachers' classroom ideas and make them a reality through its Innovation Grants program.

The alliance started accepting applications in October and will continue through Jan. 2.

The grants aim to fund ideas drafted and submitted by teachers, with the help of local businesses, according to York County Alliance for Learning Director Kevin Appnel.

“This is a program that will essentially marry a school to a business,” he said.

More: York High students to run Bearcat Bistro

One recent example of the grant’s use was the opening of the Bearcat Bistro at William Penn Senior High School in May.

The coffee shop includes students in the York City School District’s Life Skills program, which assists those with moderate to severe disabilities.

Students in the program are given responsibilities to manage and run the shop several days per week.

The shop used ground coffee  from nearby coffee shop The Green Bean Roasting Co. and food service chain Aramark.

“They brought this project to life,” Appnel said of the business partners and Life Skills support staff, adding he believes the bistro's operation will give students important experience in running a business.

Appnel said he is hoping to fund $10,000 worth of Innovation Grant projects in 2018, about on par with the total  grants awarded for 2017.

Teachers can receive up to $1,000 for their “innovative” idea, according to the grant application.

Appnel said he has received grant applications asking for help funding campus businesses, starting a live news production or purchasing equipment such as drones or 3D printers.

“There is a wide range of ideas,” he said, “but we’re looking for teachers to think outside the box.”

For more information and to obtain a copy of the grant application packet, visit the YCAL website at

Reach education reporter Junior Gonzalez via email at or on Twitter @EducationYD.

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