Historic grant helps students stay in school

November 1, 2018
Community Foundation of Broward President and CEO Linda Carter and Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert W. Runcie hold up the ceremonial $3 million check from the Foundation for a continuation of the School is Cool program. The program provides extra academic help and mentoring for students considered at risk of dropping out of school.

Students in need are already getting a helping hand from the Community Foundation of Broward’s $3 million partnership with local middle schools.

An oversized check presented Oct. 16 to the Broward County School Board symbolized the Community Foundation’s support of an innovative program that provides extra academic help and mentoring for students considered at risk of dropping out of school.

Middle school is a critical pivot point where some students who fall behind academically end up in a downward spiral that can lead to dropping out. The Foundation is committed to boosting Broward’s high school graduation rate to 90 percent by helping sixth, seventh and eighth grade students succeed.

The $3 million commitment is the Foundation’s largest grant ever and is being matched by another $3 million from the School District.

The combined $6 million effort involves 10 middle schools. If successful, the district plans to expand it to all middle schools.

“This grant has the potential to make a positive influence and a difference in the lives of our Broward County Public Schools students,” School Board Chairwoman Nora Rupert said. “We thank the Community Foundation of Broward for investing in our youth and the future of Broward County.”

The new program enables middle schools to each add two more staffers to aid students who need more support.

In addition, teachers at the schools can receive training in social and emotional learning and project-based learning – meant to help disengaged students overcome problems that affect their ability to learn. Strategies that teachers learned during summer training sessions are already being employed in classrooms, school officials said at the Oct. 16 School Board meeting.

In some instances, students are assigned an academic coach who helps them focus on their studies and they get individualized learning plans to help them succeed. The students can also work with mentors from nonprofit organizations who help them with their conduct and provide community connections that establish a support system outside of school.

The new program also seeks to address the social and emotional needs of students who feel isolated at school. The goal is to avoid alienation that leads to resentment as well as academic and behavioral problems.

“We believe that it is, in fact, a winning strategy to help our most fragile students,” said Sheri Brown, the Foundation’s vice president of grants and initiatives. “The ultimate goal here is that we are going to see our kids graduate from high school.”

The new program bolsters the Foundation’s School is Cool initiative – a long-standing collaboration with the School District to help middle school students struggling with low grades, poor attendance and behavior problems. Past School is Cool efforts include after-school and summer programs for students as well a training for educators.

“This has been years in the making,” Foundation President and CEO Linda Carter said. “We are excited about being part of the journey (and) looking forward to raising results.”

The $3 million grant and previous investments in the School is Cool initiative are made possible by the families, individuals and corporations that establish charitable Funds at the Foundation. The Foundation’s 453 Funds represent $197 million in assets, which support life-changing philanthropy across Broward.

Support for the School is Cool program has been provided by the following Funds at the Community Foundation of Broward:

Mary and Alex Mackenzie Community Impact Fund
Mary N. Porter Community Impact Fund
The Allen Family Fund for Children
Broward's Tribute to Children Fund
The Sherman "Red" Crise and Evelyn R. Crise Memorial Fund
The Huizenga Fund for Children
James and Lynn LaBate Family Fund
Lawrence A. Sanders Fund to Promote Literacy
Jim Moran Children's Fund
Sheriff Nick Navarro Fund I
Robert O. Powell Family Fund
Margaret and Cato Roach Tribute Fund

Patricia Lee Rutherford Fund for Children
Sun Sentinel Literacy Fund
Charles and Ruth Taylor Fund
Anna Bloeser Fund
Donald C. Grobmyer Fund
David and Francie Horvitz Family Fund
Edwin A. and Jane N. Huston Fund
Herschell and Margo Lewis Fund Jan Moran Unrestricted Fund
Norman R. and Ruth Rales Fund
Kathleen Kinney Slappey Fund
LaVere G. and Mabel R. White Fund

Margaret Garrison via Discretionary Community Fund

To learn how you can create bold impact on Broward’s future and establish a charitable Fund that helps young people in need, contact the Foundation at info@cfbroward.org or 954-761-9503.

School is Cool

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