BTBEF recently approved the distribution of the largest grant amount in the not-for-profit’s 22-year history. This year, $36,000 will be available for educators in District 87 and Unit 5. In addition, BTBEF will award a $10,000 Beyond the Box grant funded by the Shirk Family Foundation. Teachers are currently applying for grants that are due April 8.BTBEF President Heather Young said the amount, an increase of more than 12 percent from last year, is a reflection of the dedication of the Bloomington-Normal community to education. “We have more dollars available to teachers than ever before, thanks to the generosity of our donors who realize that strong education is the key to a vibrant community,” she said.
Even with this year’s record amount, Young noted there is still a long way to go. “We are pleased with our success and know that our grants provide educators with much-needed funds. But we’ve only scratched the surface,” she said. Last year the organization was able to award $32,000 in grants—just a quarter of requested dollars. In 2013, 48 projects received grants, but 102 educators applied with request totaling more than $145,000. “The need is great; our local educators are creating wonderful programs that will teach our children in exciting ways,” said Young. “Now all we need to do is find a way to meet their needs.”
The mission of Beyond the Books Educational Foundation is to fund innovative enrichment programs for the students of McLean County Unit District No. 5 and Bloomington District 87 Public Schools. Since its’ founding in 1992, BTBEF has awarded more than 600 grants totaling almost $430,000.