Grand Rapids Public Schools: Is there any community support?
January 24th, 2007I addressed the Grand Rapids Board of Education on Monday, January 22nd delivering the good news of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation's funding of a number of key projects within the schools proposed by teachers and students through the Excellence in Education program. We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of this program that was initiated to honor our then 65th anniversary. In that year, we set aside $65,000 to honor 25 teachers and 50 high school juniors culminating in a grand celebratory dinner.
As each year progressed, we added more money to the program and shifted the emphasis to the funding of proposals brought to us by teachers and students. The Mary I. and Robert C. Pew Donor Advised Fund is a major contributor to this program. To date, we have expended more than $1 million! At the school board meeting, we introduced those teachers who will be honored this year on March 22nd for 20th Anniversary Dinner of the Excellence program. Great!
I also took the opportunity to note for Dr. Taylor and the school board that the community has been and will continue to provide real support to the district. I get the distinct impression by comments that are directed to me, those I hear second-hand and those I read in the newspaper or hear on the TV/radio news, that the district does not feel that there is enough community support. This is not a new development, but rather a recurring theme from administration to administration.
Here's the rundown of the support that the Grand Rapids Community Foundation has provided the Grand Rapids Public Schools in recent years - some of this funding, while directly impacting the students, was directed to other organizations:
Excellence in Education: $1 million
Youth Enrichment Scholarship Program : $265,000 plus involving more than 75 mentors (This is a key mentoring program providing meaningful enrichment experiences for GRPS students from 4th to 8th grades along with offering students the opportunity to receive scholarship funding for college.)
GRPS libraries through the Student Advancement Foundation: $344,260
(Total support to the Student Advancement Foundation since its inception: $619,260!)
Kent School Services Network: $486,000 (This is an unprecedented collaborative program initiated in September 2006 delivering human services at school-based sites, six of these sites are located within GRPS schools. This is a program designed to remove the barriers that interfere with family life to assure that children are ready to come to school ready to learn and thus positively impact student achievement. It emerged as a recommendation from the ERI's 2002 report "Straight A Plan" and was done in partnership with the Kent County Family and Children's Coordinating Council. For this initial year the area foundations donated a total of $1.8 million!)
College scholarships just in 2006 for graduating seniors from GRPS: $45,000
A rough tally - short of what is likely the actual total - is: $2,415,260 plus the intangible support from trainings, positive messaging, and the blood, sweat and tears of the Grand Rapids Education Reform Initiative!
Community support . . . it is there and the district should applaud it from GRCF and the many individuals who are volunteering and the many corporations who are donating time and money and the many organizations and foundations who are providing support and counsel each and every day!