Beyond the Books Educational Foundation (BTBEF) is pleased to announce the winner of this year’s $10,000 Beyond the Box grant is George Evans Junior High School in Bloomington, Illinois. The grant is funded by the Shirk Family Foundation.
Grant-winner and physical education teacher Michael Jennings presented a proposal for the project “Taking Physical Education to New Heights.”
“Our goal in physical education is to promote active and healthy lifestyle choices by offering a variety of activities that award ALL students an opportunity for success,” said Jennings. “Achieving this goal is often challenging.” The winning project is the first rock-climbing unit in the Unit 5 School District, and includes materials and supplies for a 625-square-foot vertical climbing wall.
Students will have the chance to start a climbing club, and also train to be teaching assistants for the unit. That program, Rock Solid Assistant (RSA), will teach students to be leaders, use problem-solving skills, learn to use constructive criticism and accept instruction, and convey the benefits to their peers. “Allowing students to teach other students opens up avenues that are sometimes difficult to achieve in education,” according to Jennings.
Local climbers and employees from Upper Limits will also collaborate on the project. “Our students are assessed on muscular endurance, flexibility, muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance and body composition. This unit will directly correlate with those goals,” Jennings said.
“We are honored to be able to facilitate this Beyond the Box grant on behalf of the Shirk Foundation,” said Rich Beal, BTBEF President. In addition, Beal points out, “This year we will distribute more than $43,000 in grants from our Foundation, which is an increase from 2014. These awards are our main reason for being—to fund truly innovative projects that will affect children’s lives.”
Other grant winners in the two school districts will be notified in the coming days as well. Since 1993, BTBEF has awarded almost $600,000 for 692 grants. Awards are determined through a blind review of applications. Readers independently rank applications using the rubric found on the Foundation website. At a meeting of the readers, the rankings are discussed to determine the grants to recommend to the Foundation Board for funding.
This year 100 applications were submitted requesting a total of $126,661. The Foundation is awarding $43,799 in addition to the Beyond the Box Grant to fully or partially fund 36 programs for 2015/2016.
BEYOND THE BOOKS EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) Illinois corporation that was formed in 1992. Its purpose is to provide a long-term, self-sustaining financial base that will annually fund innovative academic programs in District 87 and Unit 5 public schools.