Stepping up as a community: news from the Education Foundation

There are a number of ways to cope with the funding crisis our schools find themselves in, and one way is to come together as a community and help support important programs with private donations. The AAPS Education Foundation is just starting a major initiative to expand their fundraising and granting capacity, with the aim of making significant contributions to the curriculum at all levels of the public schools. They say their aim is to “turn taxpayers into philanthropists.” Since we have so little control over public funding for our public schools, entities like the Ed Foundation can come to play an important role in taking the fate of our schools back into our own hands. The following press release describes their latest, and largest, grant.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation Provides Grant Funding in Support of Writing Literacy in the Ann Arbor Public Schools

Ann Arbor Public School District is implementing Vantage Learning’s online writing program, MY Access!, in classrooms and local learning centers as part of a community collaboration to increase literacy and writing skills

The Ann Arbor Public School District is showing it takes a village to raise a writer, thanks to an innovative community-wide initiative to increase students’ literacy and writing skills through classroom and volunteer collaboration. The program at the heart of the campaign is Vantage Learning’s MY Access!, an award-winning Web-based writing program that builds better writers by instantly scoring student essays, and providing immediate remedial instruction that engages and motivates students.

“MY Access! has united our town around a love for learning and language and has quickly become the driving force behind this unique community partnership,” says Wendy Correll, Executive Director of Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation. “The fun, inspirational program gives everyone the opportunity to make a difference, whether you‚Äôre the student building new writing skills, the teacher enhancing the classroom environment, or the volunteer helping kids with their homework. It‚Äôs an incredible way to engage all of our citizens in public education, and endow our students with critical communication skills.”

Ann Arbor School District was first introduced to MY Access! in 2004 when they piloted the program with 2,000 students. After seeing the success of the program, the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation has allocated $50,000 for the writing literacy campaign, encompassing MY Access! professional development for staff in up to 33 schools. Vantage Learning is committed to training 15 AAPS teachers on the MY Access! program, which includes interactive research components, instant feedback, and lively exercises. These teachers will then train other teachers as well as representatives from local learning centers, after-school groups, and other non-profit organizations who will provide students with free high-speed Internet access and after-school tutoring at their facilities.

“MY Access! promises to reach the broadest possible segment of Ann Arbor Public School District‚Äôs population, thanks to its bilingual support functions, diverse prompts, and other customizable features,” says Harry Barfoot, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Vantage Learning. “The result is students will improve their literacy and – best of all – learn to appreciate and enjoy the creative process.”

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation was founded in 1990 by a group of concerned citizens to enhance the quality of education in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. The Ed Foundation, an autonomous not-for-profit corporation with its own bylaws and a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, is separate and distinct from the Ann Arbor Public Schools. The Educational Foundation accepts gifts in the form of cash contributions, bequests, stock, memorials, endowments, scholarships and tributes, all of which are tax deductible.