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Rutherford Electric Membership Corporation and North Carolina's electric cooperatives have pledged nearly $600,000 to the state's teachers in Bright Ideas education grant funding for the 2017-18 school year. This year marks the 24th year the co-ops have offered Bright Ideas grants, and applications are available now. Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded directly to educators for creative, hands-on classroom projects that would not otherwise be funded. Teachers can learn more and apply online at www.remc.com or www.ncbrightideas.com.

"For 24 years, Bright Ideas grants have helped electric cooperatives make a difference for tomorrow's leaders by giving educators new resources to help students succeed," said Dirk Burleson, vice president of member and corporate services at Rutherford EMC. "We believe there is no better investment than in the education of our youth, and through Bright Ideas grants, teachers can bring their imaginative ideas to reality."

Rutherford EMC expects to award over $15,000 in Bright Ideas grants this year to teachers in its 10-county service area of the southwestern Piedmont. The grants are available to K-12 teachers for innovative projects in any subject. Teachers can apply individually or as a team and are encouraged to apply online.

Applications will be accepted April 3 through Sept. 18, but it could pay to apply early. Teachers who submit their applications by the early bird deadline of Tuesday, Aug. 15 will be entered to win one of five $100 Visa gift cards.

To apply, teachers must include a budget, explain the creative elements, implementation, goals and evaluation of the project, and have approval from the school principal. Applications will be judged in a competitive evaluation process, and judges will be on the lookout for projects that feature innovation and creativity. The application form, grant-writing tips and examples of past winning proposals can be found at www.ncbrightideas.com.

Since 1994, the co-ops have worked to enhance education by engaging students in meaningful learning projects that encourage creative approaches. North Carolina's electric cooperatives have now contributed more than $10.9 million to teachers for 10,400 projects benefiting more than 2.1 million students.

"Teachers have amazing, creative ideas for teaching children but often do not have the resources to make those ideas come to life," Burleson said. "The enthusiasm and dedication of educators never ceases to amaze us, and we are proud to support their efforts."

Rutherford EMC, headquartered in Forest City, N.C., is a rural electric cooperative that maintains over 7,200 miles of power lines to provide electricity to over 69,500 member-consumers in a 10 county area of the southwestern Piedmont. North Carolina's Touchstone Energy cooperatives serve over 2.5 million people in 93 of the state's 100 counties.

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