By Anna Schmeltz, Maine 207 Communications Department Intern
The Maine 207 Foundation partnered with District 207’s launch of a fundraising campaign to help local families that have been affected by the outbreak of COVID-19. A week after schools were closed due to the outbreak in March, it became apparent that as schools prepared for virtual learning, they also needed to ensure that all students were having their basic needs met.
In addition to providing free meals to families twice each week, District 207 started a fundraising campaign that has been providing District 207 families in need with $50 gift cards to local stores like Jewel-Osco, Walmart, Aldi and Target. For families most in need, they have received multiple gift cards. The gift cards have been a major assistance to the families. All have shared their appreciation and gratitude for the gift cards and many have shared that they don’t know what they would have done without that assistance.
The Maine 207 Foundation provided $5,000 to the effort, as well as almost $500 in gift cards which had been donated by local businesses to the Foundation’s benefit dinner raffle that was cancelled due to the pandemic. In addition, the Foundation provided a way for donors to support the district’s fundraising through the Maine 207 Foundation website where more than $17,000 was collected and provided to the effort.
The fundraising campaign launch was very successful, thanks to the many organizations affiliated with the school district, especially the Maine 207 Foundation. So far, the campaign has raised more than $97,000 to support District 207 families during these unprecedented times. Approximately $65,000 of the funds have already been distributed to families and the distribution will continue into the school year … as long as funds are available.
The District created a video about the program that can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhAt73-3ud4&feature=youtu.be
To donate to the effort, visit the Maine 207 Foundation's donate page.
One of the most consistently successful co-curricular activities in the District, the Maine South Constitution Team has received Foundation grant support to compete in the national finals in Washington, D.C. every year since 2008--and the road to D.C. is defined by discipline and hard work. These senior AP Government students must prepare statements and answer questions about a variety of historical and current issues involving the Constitution--and then compete in state level competitions structured similarly to a congressional hearing. Below are some photos from last year’s Illinois state competition at the Federal Building in Chicago.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of the finals in D.C. this year, students competed in a virtual competition via Zoom--and the Maine South Constitution Team fared well, particularly Unit 5; you can view this Zoom presentation and questioning below.
When the live competition was cancelled and the funds granted to the Maine South Constitution team for their trip to D.C. were returned, The Foundation was pleased to donate those funds to the Maine 207 COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
"I have just recently graduated from Maine South High School in Park Ridge, IL -- the alma mater of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In this most recent year, I have participated in the We The People Program run by the Center for Civic Education, and was on my school's Constitution team which represented the state of Illinois at the National We The People Constitution competition. Being on the Constitution team was a perspective altering and immensely enlightening experience -- one in which I learned to form and practice into my own an ability to critically synthesis philosophies and ideologies which shape our society, to be considerate of and invested in my own role as a citizen of our democratic nation, and to take into account the many perspectives which intersect to form the bigger picture. This experience, cultivated with the help of the program support from the Maine Education Foundation and to whom I owe much gratitude for, is one which we should strive to provide for all our young and aspiring learners as they grow to become an integral part of our cities, states, Nation and world."
Omar Farrag, Class of 2020
Since 1999, the Maine 207 Foundation has supported peer-to-peer tutoring programs to provide assistance to students needing extra academic help. We’ve awarded over $40,000 in scholarships to graduating peer tutors who plan to continue their educations after high school. A highlight of the 2019-2020 year was adding Maine South to the scholarship program. This spring we distributed $4,000 to four accomplished, well-deserving seniors: Olivia Bitcoin from Maine West, Omar Farrag from Maine South, and Angela Righi and Riya Patel from Maine East.
The peer-to-peer aspect of the tutoring program is highly regarded by teachers; as one stated, “Very frequently, ... tutors have taken the exact same course(s) that the tutoree needs help with and can consequently offer guidance from their own personal experience, offering studying tips, etc.”
Student tutors apply for the Foundation scholarships during the spring of their senior year. The application process requires a teacher recommendation and a personal statement about their tutoring experiences, their activities at school and within the community, and their post high school goals.
Providing long-lasting benefits
Students appreciate the benefit of having served as tutors as they move to the next chapter of their lives. As one student noted, “Not only has tutoring allowed me to discover how much I love to help other people learn, but it also made me a better student and learner.” The skills honed as tutors in the areas of leadership, communication, and responsibility will serve these students well throughout their lives.
If you are interested in supporting scholarships through the Foundation, please consider making a directed donation through our website -- donate today.
Golden Apple Award-winning Maine East biology teacher Judy Tyler has taken her Gifted Lyceum students on service trips as far away as New Orleans to participate in hurricane reconstruction, and as close by as downtown Chicago, where her students provided meals for The Night Ministry. Her students have been instructed in dry-walling and simple carpentry-and have grown from the opportunity to learn about the needs of those they served.
The Maine 207 Foundation has been a major underwriter for each of Ms. Tyler’s trips since 2006, and supported her change of plans when her service trip to Detroit was cancelled this summer due to COVID-19. Not to be deterred, the Lyceum students accomplished a successful food drive for the Maine Township Food Pantry and packed 150 meals for The Night Ministry. Please take a look at the Lyceum group in Action.