09 Aug 2017 Leveling the Playing Field
by Laura M. Perry, President, Glades Education Foundation, Inc.
With baseball season in full swing, we savor the crack of the bat and the smell of popcorn and hotdogs, while relishing the pleasures of summertime. We often take for granted that every team has the equipment it needs to successfully play the game: fundamentals such as bats, balls, gloves, and an adequate field. Yet, school districts, like baseball teams, can vary greatly in the resources that are available to their teams. Not every team of students has exposure to the same technology, teaching strategies, and materials as others.
In the Glades County School District, our students have the great fortune of small town environments and caring teachers that know most of their learners personally. The atmosphere of each school is one of positivity and genuine compassion for students’ success and well-being. However, Glades County’s schools have three strikes against them: three of the four schools are considered high-poverty schools with poverty rates between 64-77%; a small, rural area with a reduced tax base because of few businesses; and post-secondary colleges and vocational training that are at least a 30 minute commute for students. Glades County Schools, in many ways, are constantly struggling to play the education game and compete in the big leagues with less resources.
The Glades Education Foundation is hoping to change these strikes to homeruns for our students. While supporting the objectives of the Glades County School District, the Glades Education Foundation has been able to provide unprecedented access to grants, technology, and enriching activities to the students, teachers, and schools. The Glades Education Foundation has been instrumental in providing iPads and Kindles, STEM and college field trips, as well as classroom and library books.
The Glades Education Foundation is also expanding a program in Glades County Schools called “AVID about Success.” Through a Community Impact Grant from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program is being funded for grades 4-10 in the Glades County School District this upcoming school year. AVID is an international kindergarten through college platform whose mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society. AVID has been implemented in Glades County to target students in the middle of the academic spectrum, who are at risk for not graduating from high school. AVID teaches skills that are necessary to be successful in school, college, and career.
Tommy LaSorda once said, “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in an individual’s determination.” The Glades Education Foundation is a group of volunteers, business leaders and retired teachers who are determined to level the playing field for their students by providing opportunities for students to be successful. With the combined strategy of grant writing, donations from education-minded businesses and individuals, and innovative projects to inspire our youth, the Glades Education Foundation hopes to change the future for our students, and eventually our county.
This summer, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is spotlighting the nonprofit organizations funded through the 2017 competitive grant cycle. We have asked our 2017 grantees to send us their stories. The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change-makers.
About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of $111 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $67 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers. For more information, visit www.FloridaCommunity.com or call 239-274-5900.