More on the $100K grant

The official press release about the 100K grant I said we were awarded has been put out.

Here's the full scoop:

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 28, 2008) — More than $500,000 is being pumped into local programs that help students find success in the classroom and prepare for life after high school.

The gifts come from the College Readiness Fund, created earlier this year through a $2.6 million grant from the Lumina Foundation as a way to improve access to college, help students prepare for continuing education and enhance college success.

The Fund administrator, Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), announced this week that 10 local organizations would be among the first to receive grants, which will be used to reach out to Marion County students and their parents, particularly minorities, low-income families and students who are the first in their families to attend a two- or four-year college.

“Many first-generation students have not even considered college as an option,” said Roderick Wheeler, grants officer at CICF. “We’re working to break down those kinds of barriers with this program. Our message is simple: College is possible for all students.”

Two organizations received $100,000 gifts. The Center for Leadership Development will use the funding for its College Prep Institute, a program designed to equip African-American college-bound students and their parents with the necessary tools to succeed in college. Starfish Initiative, which works with at-risk and economically challenged high school students, will use the funding to continue to provide and build its one-on-one mentoring programs for youth.

“We are thrilled and sincerely honored the College Readiness Fund has selected CLD as one of its collaborating partners to help the students of our community excel in high school, college and life,” said Dennis Bland, president of the Center for Leadership Development. “This tremendous grant affords CLD a powerful opportunity to help prepare hundreds of youth throughout Indianapolis for the highest academic, college and career success. Along with other community partners who care deeply about the academic crisis we face, we can begin to lay a foundation for establishing within our city and state, a culture of academic excellence where high school and college achievement is the expectation and norm.”

The College Readiness Fund will provide grants annually to nonprofit organizations with programs focused on reducing the high-school drop-out rates, increasing college readiness skills or increasing college attendance rates.

“Most students understand that going to college is important, but they don’t all know how to take the steps to make it possible,” said CICF’s Wheeler. “The College Readiness Fund will help provide additional resources, so professionals dedicated to helping youth succeed can show students and their parents the steps they need to take.”

An important partner in the College Readiness Fund is the 21st Century Scholars, a publicly funded program that facilitates training and provides scholarships to students who wish to attend a two- or four-year public college or university in Indiana. The 21st Century Scholars program registers participants in grades 6 to 8 and leverages additional financial resources for College Readiness Fund participants and their parents.

College Readiness Fund grants awarded to 10 organizations
Center for Leadership Development: $100,000
Starfish Initiative: $100,000
Indiana University’s University College: $70,000
Encouragement Services, Inc.: $50,000
YMCA of Greater Indianapolis: $60,000
LaPlaza Inc.: $40,000
College Mentors for Kids: $30,000
The Indiana Partnership Center: $25,000
Indiana Youth Institute: $25,000
College Resource SAT prep: $10,000
Total grants awarded $510,000


Things I wish I didn't have to learn

My VISTA year is over, but that hardly means the learning stops. This week, I'm confronted with learning something I wish I didn't have to.

Earlier this week, one of our founding board members passed away. My heart goes out to his family and aches some for what his loss means to Starfish; he was such a big thinker and so excited about what we do.

Because of his long commitment to Starfish, we have been designated as one of the organizations where gifts can be sent in his memory. Suddenly, I'm learning how to do tribute gifts in the donor database and writing a very different kind of thank you letter for those donors who make memorial gifts.

While I guess it's important to have to do this (I don't grow as a person or as a development officer without doing things that are hard and unpleasant,) I must admit, this is one thing I'd rather not know.


At the Last

So. This is it. My last day as a VISTA.

My last VISTA monthly report has been turned in. I have a little bit more of my sustainability report to write, but it's mostly done.

I feel like I should have profound thoughts about what being a VISTA has meant this past year. Honestly, all I can think about right now is the fact that tomorrow I start earning a real paycheck again. My savings account will be very grateful.

I'll probably post some other thoughts over the next couple weeks as I transition. I hope to keep this blog going somehow, but I'm guessing it too will need to be adapted. Into what, I'm not sure yet. Stay tuned.

And thanks for reading this year.


If I'm Wearing a Goofy Grin..

If I'm wearing a goofy grin on my face right now, there's a really good reason.

I just got a phone call about a grant. A really good phone call. The kind where the grantor tells you that you've been awarded the full $100,000 you asked for.

I was really hoping to crack that 100K mark in a single grant during my VISTA time and with four-and-a-half days of service left, I got my wish.

So, the grants-only total now is $312,000.

If you add to that what we raised at the breakfast, my total now sits just $6K short of the half-million mark, at $494,000 and some odd change.

I'm guessing there will be an official press release coming out about this grant later and when it hits, I'll post it here. (I'm not sure the announcement of grantees is public knowledge yet, so I don't want to post about who funded this and spill the beans.)

Don't mind me smiling while I sit here working on our Scholar newsletter and my sustainability report.



I'm still in post-breakfast world to large extent.

Today was thank you letter day. I had the foresight to get the letters written before the event, so all I had to do was the mail merge and then stuff envelopes. I'm not quite sure how many letters it was, but I feel worse for the Ex. Dir. who had to sign them all.

We're also making follow-up phone calls to everyone to thank them for being there. I used to be on the phone all the time in the old reporter job, but it's been odd to be on the phone this much for these thank you calls Friday and today. What's really amazing is how stunned people seem to be that we're calling to thank them for coming. It's really not that much work, or that hard of work, just to express gratitude. Hopefully, it makes an impression.

End of VISTA service countdown: 8 days.


Friday's Docket

On day 1 after the breakfast I still have a fairly full docket -- though it's nothing like the last few weeks.

Today's top job: Find the surface of my desk.
#2. Put all the breakfast planning material in a folder for next year.
#2.5 Write a press release about the breakfast.
#3. Make a to-do list for next week of all the things that haven't gotten done because of the breakfast.
#4. Make thank you/follow-up phone calls to guests who attended yesterday's breakfast.
#5. Send thank you letters/receipts to all new donors from the breakfast.

Oh -- and I have less than two weeks left as a VISTA now.


The Breakfast

Went off fabulously.

Everybody who I talked to said they loved it (that's including people who had no idea I was planning it.)

We're getting ready to count the money.

I'll update with more info, hopefully later this afternoon. If I can stay awake. (it was an early morning...)

3:20 p.m update:
We've counted the money and the pledges and have a preliminary total.

Drum roll please...........

We raised more than $200,000.

We know there are guests who said they would mail in a donation later, so it's hardly a final total yet.

But, adding the breakfast donations to what I've raised this year in grants, the money total is now $412,000!

With a few outstanding grant applications still out there, I'm still really hopeful that I'll cross the 500K mark before the end of my VISTA service.


T Minus -->

Note the new countdown ticker on the sidebar tracking the time left to the breakfast. (The widget isn't working quite right...)

Nevertheless, the point remains.

I am completely busy with this.

If you look at the bottom page, in other countdown news, I apparently only have 16 days of VISTA service left.


Updates (or look out Tokyo)

So I promised updates and then got swamped.

Here they are now.

My new(er) computer at work is so very much better than my old one. The old one would, sometime between 2:30-3 p.m. each day, get so bogged down in its processing that the whole machine would lock up. I couldn't run Publisher and a photo program at the same time. If I got an e-mail with an attachment, the whole system would get sluggish until my Outlook dinged at me that I had a new message. After two days with the new computer, I haven't had any of these problems once I got my e-mail up and running again.

Our big fundraiser breakfast is in a week. Technically, by this time next Thursday, the breakfast will be over. (It's only one hour, from 7:30-8:30 a.m. The rest of the day we'll be counting up money!)

Anyway, with the event just a week away, I am doing little else but prep work for that. (Save for writing a short grant that has to get done too!) I'm putting guests at tables, I'm printing up pledge cards, I'm making table tents, I'm making the PowerPoint recognition slides. I have a seating chart on my wall, with 45 tables drawn in marker. I'm fairly set on about 22 of them (only 23-28 more to go, depending on numbers.)

It's a huge amount of work. I sort of understand why brides turn into bride-zilla when planning this kind of a large event. The pressure to make it perfect is intense. I quipped to a friend that I was turning into fundraiser-zilla...

VISTA Service Ticker