Bartlesville Education Promise receiving a check from Noon Rotary

Pictured left to right, Tom Gorman BEP board member, Val Callahan Rotary President, Martin Garber BEP, Dianne Martinez BPS, LaDonna Chancellor BPS, Mike May BEP, Annah Fischer Rotary, Ginger Griffin BEP, back row George Halkiades BEP, and Dan Droege BEP.
Continue reading “Bartlesville Education Promise receiving a check from Noon Rotary”

Honored as top education nonprofit in Oklahoma

Bartlesville Education Promise is Oklahoma’s top education nonprofit organization, recognized for its exceptional work in increasing the number of Bartlesville students who graduate from high school.

The group was one of 21 Oklahoma organizations selected from around 19,000 nonprofits statewide as a finalist for the prestigious Oklahoma Nonprofit Excellence (ONE) Awards.

BEP received the top honor in the education category during an April 24 ceremony at Tulsa’s Southern Hills Country Club. It was awarded a glass-inscribed vase, a medallion and $7,500.

“It is gratifying to be recognized for our organization’s desire to help more students graduate,” said Vanessa Drummond, the group’s board vice chair as she accepted the award. “Our community has been very responsive to this important mission.”

BEP’s mission is to guide the community toward assuming greater ownership for improved educational outcomes for all Bartlesville students, with a special focus on improving graduation rates and college and career readiness.

In partnership with Bartlesville Public Schools, the organization identifies and helps students who are struggling and are at risk of dropping out of school before graduation.

Civic leaders Martin Garber and Ginger Griffin helped establish Bartlesville Education Promise.

BEP’s mission is to help every student graduate but specifically targets those students at risk through programs such as after-school tutoring, credit-recovery programs for students who struggle with English or math, elementary-school reading programs and virtual books for all elementary students. The group also hosts educational camps in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

BEP hires more than 140 professional teachers each year to carry out the programs and reach students. Yet, the organization has no paid staff and relies on the generosity of its donors and volunteers. The nonprofit is managed by a 12-member volunteer board of directors.

Progress: Bartlesville Education Promise sets high standard in work to support youth

“Our entire board of directors realizes this is a wonderful honor being nominated and winning the statewide award from the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits,” said board chairman Martin Garber.

Amid a decline of Bartlesville graduation rates in 2015, Garber and civic leader Ginger Griffin founded the organization to help Bartlesville Public Schools meet the new challenge of dealing with changing demographics.

More than half of BPS students come from low-income families, and there is a growing percentage of English Language Learners and homeless students as well.

Research shows that those who don’t graduate from high school have a much more difficult time making a living and caring for a family.

BPS has welcomed the organization’s help over the years, particularly with its focus on reading.

“It is very hard for struggling students to pass the mandated Oklahoma state reading test, and the BEP-sponsored programs truly help our students,” said Dianne Martinez, executive director of BPS elementary and middle schools. “Many studies have shown if a student can’t read by the third grade, they are four times more likely not to be able to graduate from high school. BEP is helping to solve this problem.”

Originally written by Kim Archer, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Progress: Bartlesville Education Promise sets high standard in work to support youth

Just six years into its quest to help more Bartlesville students graduate from high school and ready them for life afterward, Bartlesville Education Promise has been nominated for statewide recognition for its good work.

BEP is one of 21 Oklahoma organizations selected as a finalist for the prestigious Oklahoma Nonprofit Excellence (ONE) Awards. The nonprofit was selected from nearly 19,000 organizations across the state. The winner will be announced April 24 at Tulsa’s Southern Hills Country Club.

Bartlesville Public Schools is grateful for the help BEP provides the district, including after-school tutoring, STEM leadership opportunities, instructional support for students experiencing trauma, and support for students during transitions from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school.

“BEP is a community group with the goals of improving the Bartlesville Public Schools’ third-grade reading scores and the high school graduation rate,” said BPS Superintendent Chuck McCauley. “The Bartlesville Education Promise vision and support are making a positive difference for all our students.”

The organization was established in 2015 after a number of civic leaders realized that Bartlesville graduation rates were declining, in part due to changing demographics.

More than half of BPS students are on free and reduced lunch, which means they come from low-income families. Another portion of children are English Language Learners, and a number of kids are homeless.

When civic leaders Martin Garber and Ginger Griffin understood these changes, they asked the district what kind of support it needed to meet these goals.

“Many of us became concerned with the falling graduation rates and how students were testing, as compared to international students,” Griffin said. “As a result, we started to review national trends, options to improve these results and studied what we could do to improve outcomes in Bartlesville.”

BEP narrowed its efforts to three goals: improve third-grade reading, ease the transition from middle school to high school and increase the high school graduation rate.

The group is run by 11 civic leader volunteers, raising private money to fill in the gaps left by the lack of state funding.

The primary focus is on the needs of struggling students, many of whom face multiple traumas. Along with after-school tutoring for high school and middle school students, BEP provides elementary school reading assistance.

“Now we help over 3,000 students a year, provide after-school tutoring at all nine Bartlesville schools and fund a strong third-grade tutoring program,” Griffin said, adding the organization has established virtual programs due to the pandemic to enhance learning.

Since the nonprofit began its work, Bartlesville’s third-grade reading test passing rate climbed to 99% from 85%, and the high school graduation rate has risen to 91% from 83%.

Despite the pandemic, the organization revved up its 2020-21 school year last summer with programs such as elementary school reading program that went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently, BEP partnered with Bartlesville Public Schools to purchase e-books for the district’s six elementary schools. They will be accessed through an app called Sora.

“All of our school librarians are excited that this new program is being implemented,” said Kathy Hixon, a librarian at Wayside Elementary School. “This program will allow us to continue to provide age-appropriate books for our students so that they can continue to learn while at home.”

Originally written by Kim Archer, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise

Elementary students will have access to more books through online app

Originally published on Examiner Enterprise by Kim Archer, karcher@gannett.com

Getting more books in the hands of elementary school students is the goal of many educators, and now Bartlesville Public Schools has found a way to do that electronically.

In partnership with Bartlesville Education Promise, the district has purchased e-books for the district’s six elementary schools. They will be accessed through an app called Sora.

“All of our school librarians are excited that this new program is being implemented. This program will allow us to continue to provide age-appropriate books for our students so that they can continue to learn while at home,” said Kathy Hixon, a librarian at Wayside Elementary School.

She noted that the COVID-19 pandemic raised awareness about the need for such access.

“E-books are the wave of the future for making books available to our students,” she said. “We are extremely honored that Bartlesville Education Promise is willing to help with this needed program.”

Elementary schools and Bartlesville Education Promise provided funding for the purchase of e-books, which were selected by elementary school librarians based on student interest and reading ability.

Students will be able to browse for the books on the Sora app by author, subject, genre, keyword or reading level. They may check out the book and then return it using the app.

Librarians will be able to monitor the usage of the Sora app, which will be available to students for free and can be loaded onto any device. It will automatically be loaded on district-provided Chromebooks.

Children will also be able to read books using the Sora app offline when an internet connection isn’t available.

“With the advent of our nation’s pandemic, we are concerned that students will have gaps in their reading skills,” said Dianne Martinez, BPS executive director of elementary schools. “Our elementary librarians recognize that not having books readily available to students can provide roadblocks in a student’s education during distance learning.”  

Arvest Foundation supports Bartlesville Education Promise

The mission of Bartlesville Education Promise to improve educational outcomes for students received additional help recently in the form of a $4,000 donation by the Arvest Foundation.

Kim Adams, local bank president for Arvest, presented the check to Bartlesville Education Promise chairman Martin Garber and vice chair Vanessa Drummond as well as Kevin Brown, principal of Jane Phillips Elementary.

“We are happy to support Bartlesville Education Promise and present this donation on behalf of the Arvest Foundation,” Adams said. “We appreciate the important work this organization provides, and we hope the donation reflects the foundation’s ongoing commitment to improving the lives of those in the communities we support.”

Bartlesville Education Promise works with local students and public schools to identify unmet needs and then develop appropriate programs with the goal of improving graduation rates and readiness for higher education, technical school or full-time employment.

The donation from the Arvest Foundation will be used in part to help implement a reading program for students at Jane Phillips Elementary School. All students at Jane Phillips will be provided with books they can take home to be utilized as learning tools.

In accepting the donation, Garber said, “Bartlesville Education Promise is excited about the grant from the Arvest Foundation. The foundation and Arvest employees have been active partners in improving our community’s education opportunities. This donation will allow students to significantly improve their reading skills.”

The Arvest Foundation seeks to provide funding to grantees who are actively working to create positive change for others. Major areas of focus include: K-12 education, economic development, and enhancing the quality of life throughout the Arvest footprint.

Bartlesville Education Promise Still Keeping its Word

After five years of helping struggling students learn to read and stay in school, Bartlesville Education Promise continues to keep its commitment to the community to raise graduation rates and improve readiness for life after high school.

“Bartlesville Public Schools has been very supportive of us. They recognize that they don’t have the money to do everything,” said Martin Garber, BEP chairman.

He and several other civic leaders formed the nonprofit organization in 2015 after they were dismayed to find the high school graduation rate had dropped to around 83 percent from a high of 95 percent years earlier. What they discovered was that student demographics had changed dramatically.

“We now have over 50 percent of our kids on free and reduced lunch, which means low-income. We have over 300 kids that don’t speak English very well and we have over 400 kids who are homeless,” he said.

In response to what they found, Garber and other civic leaders established the organization to help the community assume greater ownership for the educational outcomes for all Bartlesville students. Run by 11 civic leader volunteers, the group raises private money to fill in the gaps left by the lack of state funding.

The cornerstone of the program is after-school tutoring free of charge to all Bartlesville students as well as rides home for middle- and high-school students. Last year alone, 1,700 students received free tutoring.

“Not many schools in the state are providing free tutoring with rides home,” Garber said.

In the 2018-19 school year, BEP served nearly 3,500 children in Bartlesville through tutoring, credit recovery courses, parental instruction, reading programs and leadership academies. That’s the last full year of data available since last year was cut short by the coronavirus.

Despite the pandemic, the organization revved up its 2020-21 school year this summer with programs such as elementary school reading program that went virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 34 teachers taught 120 second- and third-graders who are behind in reading, identifying three essential reading skills specific to each child. The program was designed to help the child successfully pass the state third-grade reading examination, a requirement for students to move on to the fourth grade.

Some 248 students participated in the Boys and Girls Club summer education program that keeps children learning throughout the seasonal break, and includes Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programming along with high-yield learning activities. BEP provides financial support for that program.

Later this month, a virtual PSAT prep course will be available to students to prepare them for the SAT. The test is used to determine National Merit Scholars. The BEP will also hold virtual transition camps at Madison and Central middle schools to help students learn the campus, meet teachers and learn new study habits as they make the move to high school.

Garber said the board has approved a $100,000 fall program this year, including:

• After-school elementary tutoring for second- and third-graders at all Bartlesville elementary schools;

• After-school tutoring for middle- and high-school students with rides home;

• Support for credit recovery classes where students have a chance to re-take selected classes they may have had trouble with in the first semester;

• Support for the district’s Academic Therapeutic Learning Alternative Setting (ATLAS) program that provides specialized education for elementary students who aren’t academically successful due to childhood trauma;

• Parental instruction for Jane Phillips Elementary School parents;

• A new reading program for all Jane Phillips students where books are sent home over major holidays with children to be used as learning tools when they return;

• Leadership Academies for selected fourth- and fifth-graders where students learn about leadership before going to middle school;

• And after-school tutoring support for children at the Westside Community Center.

Although all students can benefit from the organization’s programs, those who are at risk of dropping out of school gain the most from the extra help, Garber said.

“That’s what we do. None of us are paid. We are all volunteers,” he said. “We just care about our kids.”

Originally published on Examiner Enterprise by Kim Archer, karcher@gannett.com

2020 Programs

The Board of Directors of the Bartlesville Education Promise announced the various programs they will be supporting in the Bartlesville School System for the summer and fall school year for 2020/21. The programs supported by the Bartlesville Education Promise (BEP), are designed to improve the graduation rate in the school system.  Many of the programs are designed to help those students that struggle and provide added educational opportunities for the student to successfully complete their course of study.

During the summer of 2020, BEP has supported elementary reading by providing virtual instruction for elementary students that have struggled to stay on grade level.  The project was designed for selected 2nd and 3rd graders.  Thirty-four teachers participated and worked with over 120 students.  Teachers identified 3 essential reading skills for each student as the focus for growth.   The program was designed to help the student in successfully passing the State of Oklahoma third grade reading examination, that when successfully passed allows the student to move to the fourth grade.

The BEP also supported the Boys and Girls Club summer education program, where 248 students participated. The educational program was designed to keep the students learning during the summer months. The five day a week program also combined 8 hours of STEM programming and High Yield Learning Activities.  The students were involved in education, healthy lifestyles, and well as character and leadership programs.

A virtual PSAT prep course will start the last of August to help prepare students to take the SAT test. This course taught by national leadership will help prepare those students that plan on taking the SAT, which is utilized to determine National Merit Scholars.  Bartlesville has been a leader in graduating National Merit Scholars in the past.

In-person Transition Camps will be held at Madison and Central Middle Schools and a virtual transition camp at the High School, in early August for those students that will be attending those schools for the first time. These one-day camps will provide students a first look at their new campus, allow a short orientation, meet teachers, and learn the type of study habits necessary for their new school.

The Board of Directors also approved an aggressive fall program of support, including:

  • After school elementary tutoring for 2nd and 3rd graders at all Bartlesville elementary schools.
  • After school tutoring for middle and high school students with rides home.
  • Support for credit recovery classes where students have a chance to re-take selected classes that may have had trouble with the first semester.
  • Support for the ATLAS program (Alternate elementary school program).
  • Parental instruction for Jane Phillips parents.
  • A new reading program for all Jane Phillips students where books are provided for all students before major holidays and the books are utilized as learning tools when the students return
  • Leadership Academies for selected 4th and 5th graders, where students learn about leadership traits prior to going to middle school.
  • After school tutoring support at the Westside Community Center during the 2020/21 school year.

The Bartlesville Education Promise educational programs have been recognized by the Oklahoma Educational Foundation as Outstanding Programs. The BEP goal continues to provide every student the opportunity to successfully graduate from high school and move to college, technical school, or the job market.

For more information contact:  Martin Garber at mgarber@cableone.net or Vanessa Drummond at VanessaDrummond@me.com.

Recognized For At-Risk Readers

            The awards, announced this week at the Oklahoma School Foundation Network’s regional meeting in Lawton, recognize innovative programs sponsored or administered by public school foundations in Oklahoma. Receiving plaques and monetary awards of $1,000 each will be the At-Risk Readers Program sponsored by Bartlesville Education Promise, the 50 for Fifty Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser sponsored by the Noble Public Schools Foundation and the Novice Teacher Support Program sponsored by the Foundation for Tulsa Schools.

            “We are honoring these programs for their creativity and the positive impact they have in supporting academic excellence in their communities,” said Katy Leffel, director of the Oklahoma School Foundations Network. “In addition, we will recognize these program award winners among their peers at regional meetings so that other school foundations might emulate or adapt these ideas in their own school districts.”

At-Risk Readers Program
Bartlesville Education Promise

Statistics have shown that students who do not learn to read by the third grade are four times more likely not to graduate from high school. Recognizing that as many as 14 percent of Bartlesville third-graders did not pass the new, more difficult state reading test, Bartlesville Education Promise implemented an At-Risk Readers Program.

The reading program selects at-risk readers in all six elementary schools and provides after school tutoring, donates books for all elementary students to take home, and offers a summer reading program staffed by professional teachers. During the eight-week summer program, teachers worked with over 1,000 students and encouraged students to take a pledge to read at least one book over the summer. The foundation invested more than $38,000 last year in the reading program.

“As a result of significant after-school tutoring, encouragement of parents, providing reading books for home use, and an aggressive summer reading program, only four students were held back in third grade,” said Martin Garber Jr., chairman of Bartlesville Education Promise.

The Bartlesville Education Promise foundation was founded in 2015 to help Bartlesville Public Schools students graduate from high school and prepare for college and the workforce. More than 3,300 students participated last year in one or more of the foundation’s programs. Last year, the district graduation rate increased from 83 to 91 percent.

2019/2020 Educational Programs

We Continue to Focus on Four Key Programs

  • Improve Third Grade Reading
  • Provide after school professional tutoring (by Bartlesville public school teachers)
  • Provide Transition Summer Camps
  • Make summer months productive for Bartlesville students

Programs for this Year

  • Provide take-home books for all elementary students
  • Provide after school tutoring for all nine Bartlesville Public schools providing transportation
  • Provide special elementary tutoring for 2 nd and 3 rd graders that need extra help (573)
  • Provide Middle School after school tutoring in Math and English (700)
  • Provide High School after school tutoring in Math, English and Science (332)
  • Provide School teachers for “Credit Recovery Classes” at the High School
  • Transition Summer Camps for 6 th and 9 th graders (373)
  • STEM Summer Camp for three weeks for 3th to 12 graders with Tri-County Tech ((227 with 79
  • Elementary Summer Reading Program (275+)
  • “Watch Dog” program for 4 Bartlesville schools to encourage “Dads’ Involvement”
  • STEAM Summer Camp for low income At Risk 4 th and 5 th grade students taught by Gifted and
    Talented staff (68)
  • Boys & Girls Club Summer Art Camp for six weeks (275)
  • Boys and Girls Club summer educational programs 8 weeks (275)
  • ATLAS Program- a year-long program for the most Traumatized students in the K-5 th grade
  • Parental support program for Jane Phillips School, which is on the State Improvement List

Total Attendance: 3,100 students
Total teachers: 140 professional teachers
Total Budget: $137,000
Over the last four years the graduation rate has increased from 83% to 91%!

BEP 2018 – 2019 Activities


  • BPS was notified that graduation rates have gone from 83% to 91%.
  • There has been a 55% reduction in the number of 3rd graders that failed to be promoted to the 4th grade due to not passing the State mandated readiness test or qualified for an exemption over a 3 year period.
  • Of the At Risk students that attended the BHS Transition Courses, 95% were promoted to the 10th In the summer of 2019 we had 62 students attend the BHS Transition course.
  • After school tutoring was continued at ALL Bartlesville Schools.
  • 700 students attended either math or English after school tutoring at Madison or Central. The policy change to allow tutoring during their study hour was extremely popular.
  • We had 454 3rd graders and 119 2nd graders attend after school tutoring, with transportation home after tutoring.
  • 332 students attended after school tutoring at the High School in math, science and English. 50% of these students were economically disadvantaged.  Numbers were reduced somewhat because of the dual scheduling for those students that took makeup classes.
  • 320 students Pledged to read over the summer, and many more attended small group meetings.
  • Watch Dog (dad’s involvement) was continued at Madison and Wilson and one additional school (Hoover) was started during the year.
  • 378 students attended Transition Camps. The 62 students at the High School were primarily At Risk students.
  • 227 students attended 3 one week STEM Camp at Tri-County Tech with 79 “high risk” students receiving scholarships. Business support was involved to outline the types of education needed to be successful in in various careers.
  • Over 3,100 students participated in at least one aspect of BEP activities.
  • BEP supported the Educational Summer Programs of the Boys & Girls Club of Bartlesville by providing funds for their summer instructors. Their educational program was attended by over 275 students.
  • 275 students attended a six week Art Camp held at the Boys & Girls Club.
  • 122 BPS and 18 Tri-County Tech teachers participated in BEP educational efforts and received an hourly compensation with benefits, and over 100 volunteers helped in the schools.
  • A new program entitled “Extreme STEAM” was initiated with 68 low Income students held over a 3 week program. The Gifted and Talented staff taught the program highlighting Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.

Total Involvement:

Tutoring and Bartlesville Schools                                               1,605

Summer Reading                                                                              320+

Summer STEAM                                                                                227

Summer Art                                                                                       275

Summer Transition                                                                          373

Boys & Girls Club                                                                              275

Summer STEAM                                                                                 68

Total                                                                                                  3,143                                    



Summer Camps Heat Up for Kids

By Emily Droege edroege@examiner-enterprise.com

Bartlesville Public School students will have multiple opportunities to learn in fun and engaging ways this summer, thanks to Bartlesville Education Promise, a nonprofit organization set up to improve educational opportunities and graduation rates.

Bartlesville Education Promise Chairman Martin Garber said the summer camps are a great way for Bartlesville students to learn while still having fun.

“Our summer programs are designed to stimulate student learning during the summer. Too often when students have three to four months “off” they do not continue to stimulate learning,” Garber said. “That is why we try to provide learning opportunities. This is especially important for “at risk” students.”

Beginning in June, the popular STEM Camp held at Tri County Tech will be open to dozens of students, and themes include art, chef, coding, drones, engineering, robotics and science. If interested contact Kerensa Kester at 918-331-3375.

“For our STEM camps, over 80 percent of students want to come back next year and every year the program has grown,” Garber said.

Junior and seniors looking for some pointers writing college entrance essays will want to sign up for the BHS Writing Camp. Here, they will learn to write engaging and descriptive essays for college entrance. The two-hour sessions will take place June 10-13 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. The cost is $10. If interested contact Bartlesville High School.

The rite of passage for a middle school student becoming a full-fledged high schooler can be scary. Unfamiliar surroundings, the fear of anonymity, and higher expectations raise the anxiety leading up to the high school experience.

To make the process less overwhelming, Bartlesville’s secondary schools will offer transition camps this summer to help students entering middle school or high school.

Transition camps will be held at Central, Madison and the high school. These camps are open to newly enrolled students to each school. The high school fundamental will be held in July and will introduce new students to the high school campus, plus focus on academic skills.

Classes will focus on how to stay involved, how to understand personal learning styles, develop presentation skills and how to utilize study skills, Garber said.

“Students will also explore higher education options. Field trips will also be taken to area colleges and schools,” he said.

Meanwhile, the transition camps for middle school students will be held in late July and early August. These two camps are open to sixth grade students going to either Central Middle School or Madison Middle School. Registration is $10 but the camps are free, Garber said.

“The response by parents on transition camps are excellent,” he said. “These camps allow students to meet other students from merged schools and parents especially like to learn what is expected at the new school. The students say how neat it is to learn how to open their lockers.”

The ever-popular art camp taught by a Bartlesville art teacher will be available, too. The sessions will be held at the Bartlesville Boys and Girls Club during June and July, Garber said.

Garber also said that an elementary summer reading program, where teachers work with local organizations to encourage students to continue reading through the summer, will also take place.

“Bartlesville teachers will start working with summer school students, and then go to the YMCA, Boys & Girls Club and other locations to visit with students and encourage them to read. This program is primarily directed toward elementary students, however it is open to students of all ages,” Garber said.

BEP is also sponsoring two new programs, Extreme STEAM and the ATLAS Project. Extreme STEAM will allow 60 students to attend a three-week program taught by the staff of the Gifted and Talented programs.

“This program will be for incoming 4th and 5th grades. Class room studies will focus on thought provoking subjects and will incorporate in class science, technology, engineering, art and math programs using experiments and real life learning experiences. Each Friday, the students will take field trips to provide extra learning experiences,” Garber said.

ATLAS Project. The ATLAS Project is being developed and staffed by Bartlesville Public Schools, he said. This is a year-long project, but will start in early August, and kindergarten through 5th grade students are invited to participate.

This pilot project will be taught by Bartlesville teachers and support will be provided by professionals from Grand Lake Mental Health, Garber said.

“The program is designed to help students develop the academic and social skills they need to be successful. The focus will be to help students make progress in the following areas, attendance, academics and social-emotional learning. After a half -day at Ranch Heights Elementary, students will go to the Boys and Girls Club and teachers and coaches will work with them on group relations,” Garber said.

The Bartlesville Education Promise is managed by its 13 member board of directors. All programs are funded with private donations from individuals, foundations and corporations. The primary goal of BEP is to provide opportunities for every student to graduate, he said.

“As the Bartlesville school staff recognizes the need for extra programs and Bartlesville donors continue to recognize the importance of a quality educational program, we will continue to expand,” Garber said. “It is encouraging, we are seeing improvement. Our graduation improvement tells the story. We have increased from 83 percent to 89 percent in the last three years. Our third grade reading improvement is also a very positive story.”