Grants to address education needs in 11 elementary schools

Middletown Community Foundation awards $95K in grants.

Eleven elementaries in five local school districts will continue their kindergarten readiness programs after the Middletown Community Foundation matched funds from the United Way of Greater Cincinnati.

The MCF donated $25,000 to match United Way funding the 11 elementary schools in Edgewood, Franklin, Madison, Monroe, and Middletown schools to continue the Ready Schools kindergarten orientation and transition program as part of the MCF’s Ready! Campaign.

The grants were recently announced by T. Duane Gordon, executive director of the MCF. He said this quarter the MCF awarded $95,700 in grants to 16 organizations. He said the foundation received 24 grant requests totaling $285,000, or three times the funding the agency had available.

In the end, the foundation awarded grants to two-thirds of its applicants, a total of 16 organizations for $95,700, or one-third of the money that was requested, he said.

Chris Humphrey, director of the “Success by 6” initiative, said the grants will fund three programs: Family Engagement, Smooth Transitions and Kindergarten Readiness, all programs whose goal is to better prepare students and their parents for kindergarten.

She said Family Engagement is a way to introduce families to the educational process through school functions. Families that feel “engaged” are more likely to stay connected, Humphrey said.

Students are taught how to properly ride a school bus and go through the lunch line during the Smooth Transitions program. She said these programs help reduce the reluctance of some kindergartners.

Kindergarten Readiness shows parents the importance of having their students prepared for the academic challenges. She said kindergartners are expected to know their letters, numbers and colors before the first day of school.

She called kindergarten the “new first grade.”

Gordon said 100 volunteers, including experts in early childhood education, donated more than 7,000 hours of service to develop a plan to address education needs in the community and expand successful, but underfunded, programs to serve all families needing help getting children ready for school and for life.

Over the next five years, this effort will cost $4.25 million, Gordon said.

Besides the United Way, the largest grants were given to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Butler County, Butler County Educational Service Center and Franklin Area Community Service, which all received $10,000.

Big Brothers Big Sisters will use the money for a Madison and Monroe school-based lunchtime mentoring program partnering high school students as “Bigs” and elementary school students as “Littles.”

Two other $10,000 grants were awarded to Franklin Area Community Service to support the food pantry serving the residents of Franklin, Hunter, Carlisle, and Springboro and Butler County Educational Service Center for the weekend backpack food program benefiting students in Middletown, Monroe, and Madison schools who would otherwise go hungry over the weekends.

Other grants were awarded to:

  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Warren County, $2,500, to support school-based mentoring at an elementary school in Franklin.
  • Breiel Boulevard Church, $1,000, to launch an All Pro Dad fatherhood initiative in Madison Schools.
  • Caring Partners International, $1,000, to provide local service charities with toiletries to distribute to low income families.
  • City Gospel Mission, $5,000, to support Whiz Kids tutoring program at Amanda Elementary, Creekview Elementary, First United Methodist Church of Middletown, Monroe Elementary, and Edgewood Elementary.
  • Community Pregnancy Center, $5,000, to support the purchase of shelving, cribs, and car seats for the mothers' pantry at the organization's new location.
  • Hannah's Treasure Chest, $2,500, to support the preparation of care packages for Middletown-area low income families distributed by the Parent Resource Center, Help Me Grow and Early Head Start home visitation programs, and social workers at Amanda, Rosa Parks, Madison, and Monroe Elementary Schools.
  • Hunter Elementary School, $3,000, to fill a gap in PTO fundraising to install a new playground aimed at improving student health through exercise.
  • Madison Local Schools, $2,000, to enact a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program.
  • Middie State/Middletown City Schools, $7,000, to continue support for a second year to house a math tutor at the school district's alternative high school located at Cincinnati State's Middletown campus.
  • Middletown Teen Mentoring Committee, $3,000, to purchase musical instruments for Rosa Parks Elementary students.
  • Monroe Local Schools, $2,000, to provide a behavioral improvement incentives program at the junior high.
  • PARACHUTE CASA, $1,700, to train a local court appointed special advocate (CASA) to represent a neglected child throughout court proceedings.
  • Women Walking West, $5,000, to support a needs assessment for legal immigrant women in the greater Middletown area to identify the number of immigrants present and what services they need to become productive members of society.