Sara Swanson

Manchester Community Schools Foundation steps into gap left by declining organizations

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Trivia Night is one of Manchester Community Schools Foundation’s fundraisers.

As older Manchester organizations are facing declining membership and disbandment, a newer organization is stepping up. The Manchester Community Schools Foundation (MCSF), a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2001, has a healthy membership with stable numbers and was selected recently by the Manchester Civic Club as a successor for administrating Student of the Month and T.E.A.M. essay contests, as well as by the Kiwanis Club of Manchester as a partner in organizing and running its Crazy Cash event for 2018.

The Civic Club, which formed in 1946, originally was known as the Exchange Club, and for decades was a local branch of the Optimist Club. The group was responsible for the formation of the Steer Club, the early years of the Chicken Broil, served as ticket takers at football games, organized and hosted a Christmas party for children in need, and more, in addition to awarding Student of the Month to a high school student each month school is in session. Their 500th and last Student of the Month was Dominic Bargardi, in December.

While much of the Student of the Month program will remain the same under the guidance of the Manchester Community Schools Foundation, there will be a few changes. Under the Civic Club, Students of Month and their families were invited to a Civic Club meeting where they were presented with their award and enjoyed a catered dinner. Going forward, Students of the Month will be honored with a short award presentation with light refreshments prior to Foundation meetings (after which they may stay or leave).

The Foundation is also instituting a Student of the Month scholarship. Each recipient for a given school year will be able to apply and the winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship at Honors Night. (All of the Students of the Month from this year will be eligible, not just those going forward.) Lastly, teachers and counselors will play a larger role in selecting Student of the Month. In the recent past, students nominated themselves by applying to the Civic Club.

The Foundation has also taken over the Teaching, Educating, And Mentoring, (T.E.A.M.) 4th grade essay contest from the Civic Club. The T.E.A.M. program covers a variety topics including fire safety, gun safety, and internet safety, as well as how to avoid drugs and alcohol. At the end of the multi-week program, all 4th grade students write an essay about what they learned in T.E.A.M. They read their essays aloud in front of judges from the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department. Two students from each class are chosen as essay representatives and were previously honored by the Civic Club. Going forward, the Foundation will continue this tradition.

Manchester Community Schools Foundation is also stepping in this year to partner with Kiwanis to organize their largest fundraising event, Crazy Cash. The very popular Crazy Cash Night is a reverse raffle, where the last number drawn wins the biggest prize. It includes a catered dinner, side-games and lots of fun and requires a large number of volunteers to organize and run. Kiwanis, also facing decreasing membership numbers, had the added difficulty of working within a short timeline this year as up until the last minute, the location remained undetermined. Although it received a reprieve and is able to continue in its original location one last year (the Legacy Event Center on Duncan Street), this may be a one-time partnership unless a new location is found next year.

The Manchester Community Schools Foundation was founded in 2001 to enhance the educational opportunities for our children in grades K-12. They provide an organization for tax-deductible donations and planned gifts, and to act as a pass through to the school community. They provide mini grants to individual teachers for special projects, technology and software to enhance classroom lessons, and funding for specialty programs not in the curriculum. The goal of the foundation is not to replace or supplement normal district funding, but provide funding for special projects beyond the resources of the district. They meet the first Wednesday of each month, in the Board Room of the Ackerson Building, 410 City Road, at 6:30 pm (confirm their meeting schedule under the “about us” tab on their website). The meetings are open to the public and they welcome new members.

Correction: The article originally stated that the Student of the month scholarship would be awarded through a drawing but actually it will be awarded based on merit and will require writing an essay to be considered. 

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