$4.8 million and counting

Students in Whitney Green’s Susan Moore Elementary kindergarten class display books purchased with BCEF grant funds. See Green’s letter page A11. -Whitney Green

Students in Whitney Green’s Susan Moore Elementary kindergarten class display books purchased with BCEF grant funds. See Green’s letter page A11. -Whitney Green

For more than 23 years, the Blount County Education Foundation has worked to boost children’s success in Blount County Schools by promoting academic learning. Thanks to more than $4.8 million dollars donated, the efforts of all have helped meet or surpass their mission goals.

When you have such a large amount of money donated and more is added every year, you must be doing something right. Citizens of Blount County and beyond give generously every year and view those contributions as well-spent dollars. But why do contributions keep rolling in year after year?

The answer is simple. Members of the BCEF work hard to ensure that every dollar is not only donated back into the Blount County School System, but they ensure the money will be used to enhance student learning. It may be through classroom grants and summer learning programs or supporting projects such as the STEAM initiative programs, scholars bowl, math tournament, visual arts exhibition, youth leadership program, and teacher of the year grants.

In 2020 alone, 149 classroom project grants were awarded to 200 teachers in the amount of $169,934. Teachers are very creative as they vie for a portion of the contributions. Their innovative ideas for classroom grants are used to boost student learning by making it fun and exciting. Throughout its existence, the BCEF has awarded 2,536 grants.

The money has also been used to set up summer learning programs such as a virtual camp series, Dreamcatchers camp, 17 sign up camps in the areas of the arts and STEAM, and in-person library/literacy camps conducted at all elementary schools.

National studies have shown that students who participate in some kind of learning program during the summer achieve more than those students who do not. Blount County has documented data for previous years to substantiate these results.

In just the 2021 summer, 178 students participated in the four-week Dreamcatchers program concentrated on learning activities such as reading, math, library/healthy living, and enrichment that included STEAM, music, geography, and Olympics. Attending students averaged three months of growth in reading and seven months of growth in math.

Those are some amazing numbers, but the educational boost from donations doesn’t stop there. Add in supported projects such as Scholar’s Bowl, the Math Tournament, the Ambassador Programs, the Visual Arts exhibition, and the Youth Leadership Program, and one can see how the BCEF is enhancing student learning is so many ways.

As the Sept. 23 Radiothon approaches, consider how you can help make a difference in a child’s education. While you may never know exactly who or how it strengthened a child’s academic excellence, you will have the confidence in knowing every effort is being made by the BCEF to increase the academic growth of Blount County students.