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

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