The Oneonta Foundation for Education Resources (OFFER) recently kicked off the OFFER Capital Campaign in an effort to raise more than $100,000. The money will be matched dollar for dollar if they are awarded an Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant that was applied for earlier this year.
Because of the requirements of the ARC grant, the application has to define a specific purpose. OFFER has chosen to focus on an exciting and evolving area of education referred to as a STEAM Lab. STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.
Other systems across the country are seeing this innovative approach to learning change the playing field for students while effectively preparing them for life after high school. The approach allows students to virtually learn skills for college and/or the workforce through hands-on experiments, multi-level computer programs, and immersion in particular areas of study.
Board president Amy Williams and Lauren Wilson, OCS academic accountability coordinator, said the grant will prepare the students for college and careers by putting them in an environment that makes them think creatively and problem solve by working with other students. In addition, it helps them in areas of developing soft skills, analyzing data, and creativity.
OFFER has set a goal to have the STEAM Lab up and running no later than January 2020, but ideally would like to have it ready at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.
OFFER, a 501(c)3 organization, is 100 percent volunteer, with more than 97 percent of money raised going directly into the classroom. The other three percent is used for supplies and promotional materials. OFFER has placed more than $550,000 in the classrooms since 2013.
As the Capital Campaign continues, OFFER is seeking individuals and businesses to partner in this effort to implement the STEAM Lab. They fully believe that putting educational technology in the hands of students creates a learning environment where they explore, problem-solve, collaborate and create, and learn. Board member Sharon Reeves said, “We could not do it without our partners. Whether we receive $10 or $2,000, we actively seek to double the money received.”
To become a financial partner or to learn more about OFFER, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/OneontaFoundationforEducationalResources or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Partners can contribute by mailing a donation to Oneonta City Schools, Attn: OFFER, P.O. Box 1514, Oneonta, AL 35121, by dropping off a contribution at any HomeTown Bank, Attn: OFFER, or through their Facebook page.