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We continue our conversation about the Community Foundation of the Ozarks Rural Schools Partnership and the Logan-Rogersville School District.
This feature was produced by Mike Smith at KSMU and includes comments from Community Foundation of the Ozarks President Gary Funk, CFO Communications Director Ryan Van Vibber, Rural School and Community Trust Communications Director Robert Mahaffee, Logan-Rogersville Educational Foundation emeritus member Lisa Spragg, and Logan-Rogersville Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Tucker.
NEWS RELEASECommunity Foundation of the Ozarks
Schools play a critical role in the well-being of small communities and towns that serve as rural hubs, providing a focal point of activity, a sense of civic pride, and a reason for families to make their homes in these communities. Rural education is a linchpin issue for rural economic development.
Recognizing the overarching importance of schools to rural development, CFO’s board of directors has launched the Rural Schools Partnership, a comprehensive program to strengthen small school districts. The program resulted from a year-long planning process involving CFO’s regional committee, regional school leaders, affiliated foundation leadership, donors, and business people. The Rural Schools Partnership embraces three consensus-based strategies for strengthening rural schools:
• Develop alternative resources• Promote collaborations and partnerships• Support place-based education strategies
Program features include:
• The Harry Cooper Supply Company Campaign for the Ozarks Phase II, $250,000 in challenge grants for educational endowment building. Twenty-five school districts and community foundations will have an opportunity to raise $20,000 for academic-oriented endowments and receive a $10,000 match through this effort. • Providing professional development support for teachers and administrators through the Rural School and Community Trust’s Rural Schools Innovation Network.• The Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation Regional Grantmaking Program of Commerce Trust will provide $150,000 per year in grantmaking support for cooperative ventures that enhance teaching and learning through innovative place-based education programs. • The Conco Community Arts Program will provide $10,000 for 8-12 student-led community arts projects.• The Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation and CFO’s Stewardship Ozarks Initiative will provide $10,000 for student-led conservation projects.• The Springfield Regional Arts Council will facilitate arts in the schools through the existing Greater Ozarks Arts Tour (GOAT) and Ozark Plateau Initiative programs.
Our hope is that the Rural Schools Partnership and its various programs will increase philanthropic support for rural education, encourage purposeful collaboration, and strengthen the bonds between school and community throughout the Ozarks.
Community Foundation of the Ozarks supports asset development, community-based grant making, organizational collaboration, and leadership initiatives throughout southern Missouri. CFO currently has $130 million in charitable assets, 41 affiliated community foundations, and 315 agency partners. In the 2009 fiscal year, CFO distributed $15.6 million in grants, including more than $6 million in targeted rural grant making. In addition, $3.8 million of the overall grants total went to education-related efforts. The Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO) is pleased to announce that 21 school districts have been selected to participate in CFO’s Rural School Partnership Rural Schools Innovation Network. The Rural Schools Innovation Network (RSIN) is a program of the Washington, D.C.-based Rural School and Community Trust.
RSIN is a “dynamic network of rural school districts striving for excellence and improved student learning.” The effort focuses on policy, research, community engagement and place-based education. The Missouri Ozarks cohort of 21 schools is involved in a two-year pilot project that allows school participation at no cost to the local school district. Funding for the effort has been provided by an anonymous New York foundation with an interest in rural education and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ Philanthropy Initiative.
The following schools applied for acceptance into the program and were selected for participation: Alton, Aurora, Bolivar, Chadwick, Dora, Eminence, Fair Grove, Forsyth, Gainesville, Hermann, Lockwood, Logan-Rogersville, Mansfield, Monett, Ste. Genevieve Valle, Sherwood, Sparta, Verona, Warsaw, West Plains, and Willard.
Each school will participate in a variety of activities this school year including webinars and a Place-Based Education Conference scheduled for early May at the historic Thomasville High School. In addition, the participating school districts will have access to the Rural School and Community Trust’s research database, written reports, and access to a number of rural education experts throughout the nation.
The Rural School and Community Trust is a national nonprofit organization addressing the crucial relationship between good schools and thriving communities. Its mission is to help rural schools and communities get better together. The Trust is a key partner in the Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ Rural School Partnership. The Rural School Partnership is dedicated to strengthening rural schools by supporting resource development, collaboration, and place-based education.