About Us

Our Vision

We believe that introducing students to the spectrum of available technology creates opportunities for exploration, problem-solving and inspired uses of imagination. ITEF empowers educators to consider the kinds of innovative learning projects that enable these opportunities.

Our Mission

With a keen eye on underserved schools and communities, the Innovative Technology Education Fund seeks to accelerate learning in K-12 spaces through the innovative uses of technology.

Our Non-Profit

ITEF is a St. Louis, Missouri based, charitable, nonprofit, private 501 (c)(3) foundation that supports innovation in education by funding advanced technology in the classrooms of public, private, parochial and charter schools in the greater St. Louis area. In addition, we provide opportunities for educators to continue to grow and learn in their field. Our work is supported through the FCC license we hold for four Educational Broadband channels in St. Louis, Missouri.

To us, innovation is about positive change, supporting novel approaches that suit the educational environment, having the vision to see things differently and, most of all, using that vision to change instructional practices for the benefit of students and educators alike.

Our History

ITEF began in 1986 as the Humanities Instructional Television Educational Center (HITEC). We originally filed Articles of Incorporation for a General Not-for-Profit Missouri Corporation, “to obtain authority (from the FCC) to own and operate closed circuit television channels in order to provide instructional and educational programs.”

This was a response to the boom in cable TV programming. More than just entertainment, cable TV was now offering a rich array of high-quality educational content. It just needed a way to reach students at learnacademy.org. One inspired solution was the creation of Instructional Television Fixed Service, a band of television channels licensed to colleges, universities and not-for profit-organizations such as HITEC.

HITEC’s transmitter was located on the KETC Channel 9 tower at Butler Hill. Offerings included The Learning Channel, Discovery EWTN, CSPAN, Inspiration Network and an arts channel. Educational facilities could now receive programming via state-of-the-art microwave dishes from their rooftops. Since the equipment was costly, HITEC offset the cost. Classrooms were enriched with content they otherwise would not receive.

And then came the Internet boom. By the 1990’s, the public was immersed in technology at an unprecedented rate. Home computing was easier than ever, laptops, smart boards, and web-based content were all becoming readily available. The students entering school were exposed at an early age to the benefits of technology—they were true digital natives. Savvy educators were demanding better access to this technology for their students who were growing up hand-in-hand with technology.

So as technology changed, so did we. In 2006, HITEC announced a new name and a new mission. New articles of incorporation approved by the State of Missouri changing the name from HITEC to the Innovative Technology Education Fund: ITEF. Our new mission was to advance the creative use of technology to provide excellence in education. Far from our humble cable TV roots, the new ITEF grew to accommodate technology’s many faces: music, video, robotics, and the arts.

Educators sprang to discover ways technology could be brought into the classroom. They saw how innovative technology promoted creativity and critical thinking. From hands-on computing to innovative software, they sought ITEF grants to cover an ever-growing spectrum of technological opportunities.

Since then, ITEF has given $3,753,163.17 to area schools for enhanced learning through the use of technology. Each year, ITEF awards grants and actively seeks collaborative partnerships with innovative educators throughout the region.

Today, we welcome the chance to equip educators as they prepare students for a digital world. We achieve this mission by offering grant funding and by expanding professional opportunities for educators. ITEF is proud to share the knowledge, the passion and the funding to positively impact education and its effects on our community.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Statement
ITEF recognizes that institutional racism and other forms of oppression have adversely impacted educational opportunities for students of diverse races, ethnicities, nationalities, abilities, classes, genders, sexual orientations, and other marginalized groups.
Therefore, ITEF is committed to supporting innovative projects that ensure accessibility to all students and educators and invite passion and purposeful learning.

Our Staff

Charmaine Smith

Chief Executive Officer

Read Charmaine's Bio

“We approach our work with the belief that our process can not be static. We are constantly learning and invite our innovators into that space to learn with us.”

Charmaine Smith moved to Saint Louis in 1987 from Wichita, Kansas to open a satellite office for the International Association of Machinists Center for Administering Rehabilitation and Employment Services (IAM CARES), a National social service agency.  In 2003, she left IAM CARES to start Discovering Options, a local non-profit dedicated to delivering high quality after school programs to at-risk children. Charmaine joined ITEF in 2014. Charmaine believes, “We have an obligation to all children to provide them the access to the tools they will need to use in order to bring innovation to the way we work, play, learn and are transported in the future.”

Currently Charmaine serves on the board of NEBSA, the National Educational Broadband Service Association. She joined Innovative Technology Education Fund on July 7, 2014 and is looking forward to advancing innovation in technology by funding school-based projects in the Greater Saint Louis Metropolitan area.

Stephanie Prewitt

Grants Officer

Read Stephanie's Bio

Stephanie Prewitt worked as a fundraiser for more than 20 years with positions at Missouri State University, Children’s Miracle Network, the Missouri Botanical Garden, Humane Society of Missouri, Saint Louis Zoo and Chesterfield Day School. The Grants Officer role at ITEF allows Stephanie an opportunity to finally give back to her favorite people on the planet, teachers. Teachers have done a lot to help her family through the years. “We continue to ask so much from teachers. ITEF is in the position to help teachers bring new ideas to their classroom, sparking curiosity, imagination and inviting all students, including those who don’t love school, to be a part of their class’s exploration and discovery.”

With her fundraising background, Stephanie still finds joy in making an impact by connecting people to their passion and in the process, learning about the good work NPOs are achieving in St. Louis. She’s also a gymnastics and hockey mom, an advocate for women’s healthcare, and a volunteer for Kirkwood School District and KSD’s Nutrition on Weekends program.

Stephanie has a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Impacting Equity through Grant Making


  • Free & Reduced Lunch Program
  • Need-Based Financial Aid


Total Amount Awarded: $300,000

Crossroads College Preparatory 64%
Hawthorn Leadership School for Girls 90%
Lindbergh High School 7%
Parkway Central High School 14%
Robinwood Elementary School 100%
St. Louis Priory School 36%
Webster Groves School District 10%



Total Amount Awarded: $257,913

Christ Community Lutheran School 28%
Fox H.S. 31%
Gateway STEM H.S. 100%
Notre Dame H.S. 44%
Peine Ridge H.S. 15%
The Soulard School 21%


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ITEF did not offer innovator grants.



Total Amount Awarded: $188,335

Crossroads College Prep 54%
Festus RVI 39%
Griffith Elementary 100%



Total Amount Awarded: $209,451

Margaret Buerkle 52%
Jennings School District 100%
Sister Thea Bowman 100%
The Fulton School 54%
Notre Dame High School 42%



Total Amount Awarded: $255,500

Festus Middle School 40%
Hodgen Tech Elementary 100%
Miriam Academy 60%
Sumner H.S. 100%
The Biome School 68%
City Montessori Adolescent Program 40%



Total Amount Awarded: $287,200

Lift for Life Academy 100%
Adams Elementary 100%
Forder Elementary 49%
The Soulard School 70%
Ritenour School District 74%
Walbridge STEAM Academy 100%



Total Amount Awarded: $347,062

Bryan Hill Elementary 100%
Central VPA H.S. 100%
Metro East Montessori 15%
Northview Elementary 100%
Sunrise R IX Elementary 100%



Total Amount Awarded: $347,062

Buder Elementary 74%
Crossroads College Prep 57%
The Soulard School 70%
Immanuel Lutheran Elementary 10%
Notre Dame H.S. 33%
Rockwood School District 16%


2014 Fall

Total Amount Awarded: $358,656

Hazelwood Central 47%
Sappington Elementary 33%
Loyola H.S. 39%
SLUH H.S. 39%
Thea Bowman Elementary 40%
Marian Middle School 100%


2014 Spring

Total Amount Awarded: $200,824

Buder Elementary 74%
Francis Howell H.S. 18%
CIL - Lutheran H.S. 39%



Data Tracking Begins