By Don Nelson
Winthrop Kiwanis has been awarded a $20,000 grant by the Community Foundation of North Central Washington that will allow the organization to partner with the Methow Valley School District to launch a program aimed at increasing opportunities for students in the district’s Independent Learning Center (ILC).
The grant, awarded to the Kiwanis Foundation and to be administered by the Kiwanis club, will provide funds to support student-generated projects at the ILC, as well as scholarships, mentoring, training, guest speakers, social media and formation of a Kiwanis Key Club.
Kiwanis will match the two-year grant with $17,780 in local donations to extend the program to three years.
The grant is one of 10 that the Community Foundation of North Central Washington is awarding to service clubs in Okanogan, Chelan and Douglas counties to help families escape generational poverty as part of the “Be the Change” program, which is made possible by a grant from the Gates Foundation.
“Be the Change” looks to financially support service club projects that help low-income families escape the cycle of generational poverty, according to the foundation’s website. Emphasis will be placed on programs that provide role-modeling, scholastic support, and other activities that bolster students’ self-confidence and socio-emotional development, according to the website.
The Kiwanis grant application notes that about 75 percent of ILC students meet the program definition of generational poverty. In a supporting letter to the community foundation, Methow Valley School District Superintendent Tom Venable said that 95 percent of ILC students qualify for free or reduced meals at school. Many ILC students also face other learning challenges, Venable said, which may include homelessness, depression, lack of a positive self image, and relatively few role models or mentors.
Sandy Mackie, who will be the grant supervisor for Kiwanis, said that club members Suellen White, John Owen, Carl Miller and Venable deserve “a great deal of credit” for helping to develop the grant application.