M/I Community Foundation gives grants

Money enriches classroom activities

MONMOUTH-INDEPENDENCE -- Teachers at Henry Hill Elementary School received $50 to throw a year-end celebration for their "Homework Heroes," those students who completed almost all of their reading assignments.

Math classes at Monmouth Elementary School and Ash Creek Intermediate were given $400 grants to buy construction kits to give kids a hands-on approach to geometry.

Four Central High School graduates were awarded $500 scholarships in 2003 to start them off on the road to higher education.

These are just a few examples of how the Monmouth-Independence Community Foundation has been putting the thousands of dollars in funds it's raised and collected over the last three years to good use.

The foundation, a nonprofit organization that acts as a funds administrator for charities and educational programs in Monmouth and Independence, met recently to earmark money raised in 2003 for programs it supports through its endowment funds.

The foundation ended last year with more than $136,000, $35,000 more than 2002, thanks to a rebound in the stock market, said President Scott McArthur.

Money raised by the group is added to interest bearing securities and stocks, with the income earned allocated to several charitable causes.

"It's been great, the income from investments has risen significantly and we had a number of contributions from our kind benefactors," McArthur said. "As a result, we'll have a little more money to pass out than last year."

The Central Classroom Enrichment Program, which provides funding for educational services and activities otherwise not possible on district funds, will receive almost $6,000.

Teachers who find themselves short on books, equipment and other resources for their classes may apply for funding from that pot at the end of the year.

"It's a rewarding program," Cec Koontz, foundation treasurer, said. "It can give as little as $75 to a teacher who can put that money toward a class program that he or she might not be able to on the school's normal budget."

In addition, the foundation authorized the distribution of $1,960 to the district's scholarship program, which awards $500 to high school graduates headed off to college or vocational school.

"Last year, we gave out four $500 scholarships," Koontz said."It looks like this spring, with more money still coming in, we may have as many as five."

The foundation will also give $2,261 to the Independence Public Library. Past awards to the library were used to obtain matching grants for the construction of the new building.

The foundation is one of the few charities that operate without any administrative or overhead cost, McArthur said. Donations to the foundation are federal and state income tax deductible as charitable contributions.

"Every cent we take in stays with our charities, and any out of pocket expenses are borne by the directors themselves," he has said.

Koontz hopes more people become aware of the foundation and the activities its involved in.

"The more donations we can get in, the more we can disburse to those programs," she said.

More information on the Monmouth-Independence Community Foundation is available by calling Scott McArthur at 503-838-2430.

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