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A benchmark to education: The Education Foundation of Indian River County

Worldwide effort to help families, children and their communities.
Worldwide effort to help families, children and their communities.
Photo by Chris Jackson

The word spotlight can be defined as a powerful light focused so as to illuminate a small area, usually mounted so that it can be directed at will to reveal and bring awareness to issues and concerns that face individuals and nations as we begin to resolve and yield a harvest of not bandage (multiple charitable interludes using Johnson & Johnson’s branded ‘Band-Aids’, as a metaphor, support, but no permanent everlasting solutions), but it must be taught and understood through mental comprehension of the mind that thoughts through thinking defines the “go to” people in all situations, not kind, well-meant or intended gestures at this time. Everyone and everything, to cure the ills and ill-wills of our homes, communities, nations and all-at-large, we must be in it for the long haul; not the ‘you-haul’, but all halls of justice and liberty rise up to take the bacon home where it belongs.

The Education Foundation of Indian River County (EF-IRC) exists to fulfill unmet funding gaps. For over 20 years our program services have been focused on enriching and enhancing educational opportunities for all students and teachers, both public and private, through effective fundraising and efficient allocation of resources.

The EF-IRC is one of only ten education foundations in the State of Florida to serve both public and private school students. This unique structure, as an independent 501c3, allows the organization to direct funding where it is needed most to build a better community. This ensures educational opportunities for every Pre-K through 12th grade student in Indian River County.

In the efforts of EF-IRC achieving their green dreams of planting seeds for the future, a spotlighted project has evolved which is about doing the right thing for a large population of children who come from food insecure families who struggle to find ways to sustain themselves with food and energy resources.

EF-IRC believes that if change is to occur, we must transform the lives of not only the impoverished children but their families, as well. It is an effort that will need the involvement of the entire community and the resources to teach children how to become empowered to sustain themselves and their families.

Target Population:

Vero Beach Elementary School is located on 1770 12th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960 (On 12th street between Old Dixie Highway and 20th Avenue). Vero Beach Elementary is a school with 89% of the children on free or reduced lunch plans and a 60% minority population. School enrollment is projected to be 768 students when the new school opens in August 2012.

Project Summary:

  • The new Vero Beach Elementary school (VBE) is a model green school that serves as a proto-type for other school districts in the State of Florida. More than ninety percent of VBE students are from urban impoverished families. More than 62 VBE families are homeless.
  • This project funds the tools to empower students and their families to generate sustainable food and energy resources. It will also reduce student obesity, ADHD, asthma and student/teacher absenteeism.
  • A nutrition kitchen and community garden have been built with grants from Impact100, AT&T, the Indian River Community Foundation and other private donors
  • The project will change the lives of children who receive Free and Reduced Lunch services by teaching them about health and well-being, citizenship, the connection between hunger and drug abuse and how to generate power and food for their families.

The Indian River County School District (as well as the other school districts on the Treasure Coast) is stronger and better because the tenacious education foundations of Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties are helping to get the job done for the opportunity to exist and have prosperity for all students, their families and communities.

See list below of on-going programs of EF-IRC

REF: Education Foundation of Indian River County (EF-IRC)

School Supply Fund of EF-IRC
School Supply Fund of EF-IRC Photobucket

School Supply Fund of EF-IRC

This program began as a pilot program in 1995 in response to a series of articles in the Press Journal, and was developed to meet two objectives.

The first objective was to provide much needed supplies to students, thereby enabling them to better prepare for the academic challenges they would face in the coming school year. The second objective was to give teachers additional financial assistance. The hope is that this additional assistance will take the financial burden from teachers who used their personal funds to purchase school supplies for needy children.

This program meets the needs of students and teachers in two ways:

1. The County Wide School Supply Drive:

In 2006 the program expanded to include the County-wide School Supply Drive (CWSD). In the first year more than 708 backpacks filled with supplies were distributed to students in need. The CWSD is led by the Education Foundation and supported by community partners. Each year more than 2,000 school supply kits are distributed by public schools to children in need. The Program is supported by private donations and proceeds from the License for Learning tag revenues, the Brackett Family Foundation, George E. Warren Corporation, and the Sebastian Elks Lodge #2714.

2. The Indian River County Lawyers Auxiliary "Tools to Learn School Supply Closet":

\The Education Foundation and the Indian River County Lawyers Auxiliary are partnering again to offer the "Tools to Learn School Supply Closet” at the start of the school year.

The goal is to offer another level of support to teachers. A list of available supplies will be available on this website beginning August 1, 2013. Public and independent, primary and secondary schools, in Indian River County will have the opportunity to make requests based on need. Principals will review all requests made by their staff to avoid duplication or unnecessary submissions. Requests will be reviewed on the 15th of each month by a committee of volunteers from August – March.

Through this partnership the Education Foundation and the Indian River County Lawyers Auxiliary hope to offer mini grants. The grants will help to fund items not listed on the "Tools to Learn School Supply Closet” site. Requesting schools will complete a form that will be available on the Education Foundation site.

This year Max Fitness and Vero Beach Outlets collected supplies to support the project.

REF: Education Foundation of Indian River County (EF-IRC)

The Sneaker Exchange
The Sneaker Exchange Photobucket

The Sneaker Exchange

The mission of the Sneaker Exchange is to promote improved self-esteem and proper physical development in children by providing comfortable appropriate school shoes to every public school student in need in Indian River County. The Sneaker Exchange Committee is responsible for the facilitation of the program, assisting in finding funding, and providing volunteers to facilitate exchange visits.

Nearly 20,000 pairs of shoes and socks have been distributed since the program began in 1993. Through the simple act of providing children in need sneakers, they are able to participate in all school activities. Since children in need come in all sizes, the program serve public school students in grades Pre-K through 12th.

Elementary students are treated to a trip to the Payless ShoeSource store to select a new pair of sneakers. Secondary students are awarded vouchers that they can then present at the Payless ShoeSource for a pair of sneakers. School Coordinators utilize the Free and Reduce Lunch Report as a means for identifying children in need.

To date, the Education Foundation is experiencing the greatest increases in service to secondary students who receive vouchers. This is also the most expensive group to help. The average cost of a pair of shoes for an elementary student is around $15.00, the average cost for a secondary student is $35.00.

We are especially grateful to our many donors including Bank of America Charitable Foundation, George E. Warren Corporation, Grand Harbor Outreach, Indian River Community Foundation, PNC/Harbor Federal Foundation, John's Island Community Foundation, Quail Valley Charities, Toyota, Scion, Kia of Vero Beach, United Way of Indian River County, Wachovia/Wells Fargo Foundation and The William Bingham Foundation. Our volunteers also make a difference. Holy Cross Catholic Church and the Junior League of Indian River County, the founders of the program, help to facilitate this valuable program. Through this support, students able to put their best foot forward.

REF: Education Foundation of Indian River County (EF-IRC)

The Indian River Regional Science and Engineering Fair (IRRSEF) Program
The Indian River Regional Science and Engineering Fair (IRRSEF) Program Photobucket

The Indian River Regional Science and Engineering Fair (IRRSEF) Program

The Indian River Regional Science and Engineering Fair (IRRSEF) Program is comprehensive and open to all students grades K-12 in public, private, parochial, charter and home-schools. Prior to the establishment of the IRRSEF, students from Indian River County traveled to Brevard County to compete along with students in Brevard. The IRRSEF was the first endeavor of the Education Foundation, and remains its signature program.

Program Services:

  1. Provides training opportunities for educators in the area of science.
  2. Provides outreach programs to teach students and parents how to conduct a successful science fair project.
  3. Provides opportunities for awards and scholarships for students.
  4. Provides a regional forum for scientific achievement, as well as, opportunities to compete at state and international levels.

This program has been highly successful in the following ways:

  1. Science research projects resulting from the IRRSEF have brought thousands of dollars in scholarship opportunities to our students.
  2. This program encourages participation from the citizens of Indian River County as judges and mentors.
  3. The program has been beneficial to teachers. Meetings and workshops offer professional development.
  4. The program offers mini-science seminars for students, parents and teachers.

The Education Foundation partners with the School District of Indian River County presenting this regional level of competition for the students of Indian River County. George E. Warren Corporation, Quail Valley Charities, Wells Fargo, Critical Infrastructure Support Group, Syngenta Crop Protection, Publix Super Market Charities, Merchants Association of Florida, and Piper Aircraft major underwriters of this program.

REF: Education Foundation of Indian River County (EF-IRC)

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