In 23 years, the Blount County Education Foundation has experienced tremendous growth. While classroom grants remain the heart and soul of the foundation, the projects it now funds have grown to include the ambassador program, summer learning, technology, and so much more.
With the needs of the school system growing, so too must the monies raised. Thanks to the generosity of individuals and businesses throughout Blount County and the relentless pursuit of grants, the Blount County Education Foundation has raised more and more each year. And this year, that growth exceeded all expectations as they topped $1 million during last week’s Radiothon.
“What an amazing day we had,” exclaimed Mitchie Neel, BCEF executive director. “We are just so amazed and thrilled to reach the $1 million Radiothon milestone. It was a dream way in the future and boom, it’s reality.”
The foundation held its first Radiothon in 1999, raising $12,600, all of which went to fund classroom grants. Each year the total grew.The $100,000 milestone was reached in 2009. It took until the 16th Radiothon to cross the $200,000 mark.Four years later, the foundation brought in $505,611. They raised $524,591.49 in 2019. In 2020, the total grew to $603,729.21.
“What! A! Day! The final total for the 2021 Blount County Education Foundation Radiothon was an unbelievable $1,105,257.76,” Neel said. “We are thrilled! We are excited! We are grateful! These funds are being used to meet the BCEF mission to promote academic excellence in Blount County Schools.”
The total means BCEF projects will continue: classroom grant program; summer learning opportunities; academic competitions like the Spelling Bee, Scholars Bowl, Math Tournament, Visual Arts Exhibition; technology resources; improving career technical programs; Youth Leadership Development Program; STEAM labs and STEAM resources; Ambassadors program; and much more.
“It takes all our contributions, no matter the size, to make this possible, and contributions ranged from a few cents to more than $177,000.When all contributions were combined, that remarkable total appeared,” Neel said.
“Thank you to each person, business, organization, municipality, corporation, agency, foundation, and any other contributor for making such an amazing day possible.The Blount County community and those who believe in it are truly special.”
The Radiothon itself has grown each year. Held this year at The Little Brick Church in Oneonta, those listening were entertained by school features that ranged from songs and poems to accomplishments and grant winner testimonials.
“It was so exciting to hear about the foundation’s impact all across the school district,” Neel said.” It was also exciting to hear the donation announcements from the schools as they were featured.”
Visitors throughout the day stopped by to share why they give and why the foundation and its mission is important to them. Neel continued, “There were so many calls and walk-in donations that we were amazed. Donations began immediately as we went on the air and the ‘busy’ connected with receiving donations continued all day. We also had a lot of donations given prior to the broadcast. We enjoyed announcing ALL of the donations.
“The Blount County Community is terrific. We are so grateful to all who gave to make this total and the impact it will have possible!”