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MATTOON -- Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation is pleased to announce that it has awarded four family engagement mini-grants through the Mattoon Foundation for Academic Excellence Fund.

Mattoon High School received $1,000 for the Little Waves at Franklin Preschool project. Through the project, 20 preschool students are taught and supervised by full-time preschool teacher Erin Clifford and 40 Mattoon High School students. Participating high school students are able to receive direct experience with children and complete coursework that will count as dual-credit through Lake Land College.

Riddle Elementary School received $1,000 to support the Riddle Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program. Watch D.O.G.S. is a nationally recognized family and community engagement program that has brought thousands of fathers and father-figures into school classrooms and hallways. The goals of the program are to provide positive male role models for the students, demonstrating by their presence that education is important and to provide extra sets of eyes and ears to enhance school security and reduce bullying.

The Arland D. Williams Elementary School received $968 for the Little Free Library Reading Oasis program. The Reading Oasis will be located at the elementary school and will provide adults in the community with an opportunity to share reading material. The goal is to establish a system with the families and neighbors in the community of book sharing, resulting in a positive reading example for their students.

Franklin Preschool received $1,000 for its End of the Year Kindergarten Meet and Greet. The meet and greet hosts students who are moving on to Kindergarten for the 2019-2020 school year as well as their families. The families visit Williams Elementary School to meet the Kindergarten staff, explore the school and ask questions regarding the school and program.

The Community Foundation also awarded four community engagement mini-grants through the Mattoon Foundation for Academic Excellence Fund.

Mattoon High School received $7,500 for the Leader in Me program. The Leader in Me is a comprehensive K-12 school improvement model that equips students with essential leadership and life-readiness skills. Leader in Me implements 21 highly effective practices in six categories. The goal will be to establish a culture of college, career, and life readiness among all students and staff.

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The Mattoon High School Student Council received $5,000 for the 2019 Mattoon Community Homecoming Week. The activities of homecoming week are designed to give students the opportunity to interact and learn about many of the service organizations in the Mattoon area. The activities will expose students to volunteer opportunities and prepare them for service learning activities that are planned for the week.

Mattoon Middle School received $5,000 for its Lending a Hand: Assistive Device Design project. In this project, students will assume the role of a biomedical engineer and design their own "hand gripper." Students will research the anatomy, form and function of the hand and determine which materials will work best for their design. The project uses biology, physics, math and technology, in addition to engineering. Doctors specializing in pediatric orthotics will be integral to the project. This project will create a partnership with the medical community at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Care and Mattoon Middle School.

Mattoon Middle School received $2,500 for the “Story Time with MMS Friends” program. The story time program is a partnership with Mattoon Public Library in which middle school students lead story time. The students currently lead story time four times a year, but this grant will enable Mattoon Middle School to expand its story time program to once a month.

The Mattoon Foundation for Academic Excellence was established in 1994 with funding from Consolidated Communications’ Earning for Learning grant, and became a component fund of Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation in 2005. The Mattoon Foundation for Academic Excellence was originally designed to support teachers in Mattoon CUSD #2 beyond the available budget of the school district. The Mattoon Foundation for Academic Excellence provided classrooms with supplies that were needed in the classroom, but lacked the long-term impact the district was striving to achieve. In 2017, the Community Foundation convened school administrators, teachers and other community leaders to realign the mission of the fund and its programming to better reflect the school’s priority and vision of strengthening the relationships between the school, families and the community. This discussion led to two new grant opportunities: Family Engagement Mini-Grants and Community Engagement Grants. Research has shown that when families, schools and communities partner in promoting learning and healthy development for all children, schools thrive and student outcomes increase.

The Mattoon Foundation for Academic Excellence is funded through the Consolidated Communications Earning for Learning Program. Consolidated’s Earning for Learning Program began in 1993 and has provided $3.5 million in grants to central Illinois schools focused on K-12 academic initiatives with new technology purchases and innovative learning programs and projects. In 2019, the Mattoon Foundation for Academic Excellence received $5,000 from the Earning for Learning Program.

The Mattoon Foundation for Academic Excellence is a fund of Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation. For more information, contact Amanda Lessley, President/CEO, at 217-342-5409 or amanda@enrichingourcommunity.org.

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