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New program to benefit local schools

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An effort to strengthen small school districts has been launched by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO), and the Monett and Pierce City school districts, the Monett and Pierce City Public School Foundations and the Monett Area Community Foundation are now eligible to participate in the new Rural Schools Partnership.

After a year of planning, CFO has announced the comprehensive program that embraces three consensus-based strategies for strengthening rural schools. The strategies include: developing alternative resources; promoting collaborations and partnerships; and supporting place-based education strategies.

"Schools play a critical role in the wellbeing of small communities and towns," said Gary Funk, CFO president and chief executive officer. "Schools 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."

The program offers many features that the Monett and Pierce City school districts could access, including challenge grants for educational endowment building offered through the Harry Coper Supply Company Campaign of the Ozarks Phase II.

This campaign offers 25 school districts and community foundations, including Monett, the opportunity to raise $20,000 for academic-oriented endowments and receive a $10,000 match for a total investment of $30,000 in rural education.

Other program features include:

* Professional development support for teachers and administrators through the Rural School and Community Trust's Rural Schools Innovation Network.

* Grantmaking support of up to $150,000 per year for cooperative ventures that enhance teaching and learning through innovative place-based education programs. This is offered through the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation Regional Grantmaking Program of Commerce Trust.

* A promotion of arts in the schools through the Springfield Regional Arts Council, the Greater Ozarks Arts Tour and the Ozark Plateau Initiative.

In addition, the Rural Schools Partnership will also be offering $10,000 to eight to 12 student-led community art projects through the Conco Community Arts Program and $10,000 for student-led conservation projects through the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation and CFO's Stewardship Ozarks Initiative.

"Rural education is a linchpin issue for rural economic development," said Funk. "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."

For more information, visit www.ruralschoolspartnership.org.



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