The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has honored a comprehensive academic support program for at-risk students and three successful fundraising programs as recipients of its 2017 Outstanding Program Awards for Local Education Foundations.
The awards, which recognize innovative programs sponsored or administered by public school foundations in Oklahoma, were presented at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Fall Forum for Local Education Foundations held recently in Norman. Receiving plaques and monetary awards of $1,000 each were the Education Promise Program sponsored by Bartlesville Education Promise, Trojan 20 sponsored by the Jenks Public Schools Foundation, the Black & Gold Gala sponsored by the Inola Educational Enrichment Foundation and the Fashion Show Fundraiser presented by the Wagoner Education Foundation Inc.
“We honor these programs for their creativity and the positive impact they have in supporting academic excellence in their communities,” said Donna Alexander, director of Local Education Foundation Outreach for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. “In addition, we recognize these innovative programs at our Fall Forum so that other school foundations might use these ideas in their own local communities.”
To help at-risk students successfully graduate and prepare for college and the work force, the Bartlesville Education Promise launched the Education Promise Program, a multipart initiative that includes reading support for struggling elementary students; after-school tutoring for high school students; a summer academy to help students transition to a new school; ACT/PSAT test prep; and camps in Advanced Placement readiness, art and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). The program, which began in the 2015-16 school year, is sponsored by Bartlesville Education Promise, a foundation created in 2015 to support local schools.
“While Bartlesville has a wonderful school system, the community’s demographics have been changing,” said Martin Garber Jr., chairman of Bartlesville Education Promise, noting that about 50 percent of Bartlesville students qualify for free-and-reduced-lunch, 300 are deficient in English language capability and more than 400 are classified as homeless. “As a result, we are beginning to see a declining graduation rate. A principal objective of the Education Promise Program is to help improve the percentage of students that graduate.”
In the 2015-16 school year, the foundation raised approximately $45,000 with support from individuals, businesses and foundations to fund activities benefiting more than 2,000 students. The program provided free books for at-risk elementary readers to take home and share with their families or a reading volunteer. At the high school level, the program offered teacher-led tutoring in English, math and science to 957 students, most of whom showed improvement in their grades after tutoring.
Transition camps were provided for 220 students going into middle school and high school to help reduce student stress and prepare students for the expectations of their new learning environment. The foundation partnered with the Lowe Family Foundation to present STEM camps serving 145 students. Classes addressed robotics, nursing, computers and had several guest speakers who spoke about STEM careers. In addition, six-week summer art camps staffed by district art teachers were held at the Boys and Girls Club and the Teen Center and culminated in a student art show.
In 2016-17, the foundation doubled the program’s budget to $90,000 and expanded in-school tutoring at the elementary and secondary levels, which included providing after-school transportation. The foundation also initiated a campaign to recruit and train community volunteers to work with students.