BATESVILLE — Ripley County Community Foundation supporters have a lot to celebrate, and the June 27 annual meeting at the Napoleon Senior Center gave them a chance to recognize their achievements.
The EcO15 (Economic Opportunities through Education by 2015) report was given by Bill Narwold, Jac-Cen-Del Community School Corp. superintendent. The initiative, which began in December 2007 thanks to a Lilly Endowment Inc. grant given to 10 southeastern Indiana counties, is still going strong.
“Ripley County took a different approach to this grant .... most other counties decided to use the grant money to build a building and hire staff. We chose to invest in public education, with the idea of when the funds dried up, the public schools would carry on the dream.
“The goal is to advance every citizen by one degree. For example, if your parents didn’t’ graduate from high school, the goal was for you to graduate high school.
“The impact in the schools has been unbelievable .... It has had a big impact on us and the career center. As courses get more expensive, the small schools don’t have the ability to pay for those classes, so they are offered at the career center.”
Narwold added, “We developed several partnerships with major manufacturing firms, as well as small businesses. We have people visiting classrooms and kids going to these companies.”
Regarding the future of EcO15, he said, “There’s a second phase of funding we’re waiting to hear from. We’ve got some great ideas to build on what we’ve already done. Unlike the other counties, if the funding doesn’t come through, it (the initiative) will continue because all the schools have made a commitment to keep it going.”
Linda Chandler, scholarship committee chair, introduced the 2012 Lilly Endowment Scholarship recipient, Nick Walter, a Milan High School graduate. He will receive a full-tuition, four-year scholarship, plus a $900 yearly stipend for books and equipment.
The four Ripley County Community Foundation Scholars were also recognized (Austin Frey, an Oldenburg Academy graduate; Courtney Smith and Alexander Dodge, Jac-Cen-Del High School graduates; and Lydia Ertel, a Milan High School graduate). They will receive $1,500 scholarships.
Grant committee chair Mark Collier reported $311,000 was awarded in grant requests last year, “and in 2012, we have set aside $8,000 for small project grants of $500 or less. There are two more cycles,” with requests due Aug. 10 and Oct. 12. In addition, Sept. 14 is the deadline for large grants up to $2,500. “Organizations may apply for one small and one large grant per year,” he noted.