Most teachers are used to working on a tight budget, sometimes even dipping into their own pockets to ensure their students have the resources they need to succeed throughout the school year.

Now, with a new program from Tri-Energy Cooperative in Bismarck, N.D., the Bismarck, Mandan and Dickinson communities are working to lend a hand and help local educators fill the financial gap with support from each Cenex visit.

The cooperative’s Gallons of Gratitude” initiative recognizes the excellence of its local teachers through an innovative partnership with the Bismarck Public Schools Foundation, Mandan Public Schools Foundation and Dickinson Public Schools Foundation.

“For every fill up at our Cenex-branded fuel stations, a portion of the transaction goes to support teachers’ supply and educational experience budgets for their classrooms,” says Sarah Tschider, Tri-Energy C-Store operations manager, who notes that local teachers perform a difficult job in the face of a myriad of challenges. The Gallons of Gratitude program was created to give them some much-needed additional resources to work with.

“Our local teachers can use the funds for a wide variety of things, from furniture to materials to extra snacks. Our goal is to help them enhance the classroom experience for their students,” Tschider says. “We think it’s important to invest in the community, and, in particular, in our children who are the future of our community.”

“Sometimes teachers within a school pool their funds to make larger purchases. As the mother of young children myself, I am proud and honored to work for a cooperative that makes this kind of investment.”

In just two years, the program has provided $500,000 to local public-school foundations in Bismarck, Mandan and Dickinson.

“The Gallons of Gratitude program has made a significant impact on our Bismarck Public School teachers and students,” said Stacey Lang, development director for the school’s foundation.

Funds from the program have been used to support everything from supplies needed for the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) gaming program at Simle Middle School, where students develop the social, emotional and problem-solving skills that support them in their other classes and beyond, to the execution of a field trip to the Gateway to Science Museum for second graders at Myhre Elementary School. As a Title I school, many of Myhre's students would not have been able to experience this hands-on learning opportunity without support from the program.

The additional support has not only enhanced lessons and activities helping local students learn and grow; funding has also helped the teachers selected to provide more engaged support in the classroom.

“This program has allowed teachers to use funding to enhance our students’ learning environments. These enhancements have varied greatly and were customized to each classroom’s specific needs, ranging from social/emotional supports and curriculum enhancements to providing field trips for experiential learning.”

Visit the initiative's partner page to learn more about the program and read on to see how the Cenex brand gives back across the country.

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