March 4, 2010

Grant supports local unity project

Knox was recently awarded a $35,000 grant by the State Farm Youth Advisory Board to support a community outreach program spearheaded by 11 Knox students.

The Advisory Board is comprised of 30 high school and college students selected to allocate $5 million a year to student-initiated service-learning projects.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment … to expand the outreach between the college and the Galesburg School District,” said Stephen Schroth, assistant professor of educational studies.

The grant money was awarded in order to develop the Galesburg Enrichment Mentoring Project (Project GEM), which will bring together Knox students, George Washington Gale Scholars at Galesburg High School and elementary school students. In conjunction with the Great Books Foundation, Knox mentors will introduce Gale Scholars to the in-depth study of literature.

The Gale Scholars Program selects 15 eighth-grade students each year and provides them with full tuition scholarships to Carl Sandburg College and Knox as well as academic support. Under Project GEM, support will be extended.

“We want to address an achievement gap,” said junior Danny Gonshorek. “We want more students to succeed in the Gale Scholars program [and] we believe mentoring is a crucial link to academic success at all levels.”

Consequently, the mentoring does not stop with the Gale Scholars. These students will go on to mentor 60 elementary students.

“Participating in service learning … will give the Gale Scholars a greater appreciation for education,” added Gonshorek.

The grant money will be used to pay for program training, materials and transportation costs for everyone involved. A portion of the grant will also allow Knox students to stay on campus during the summer to continue the program.

Although Schroth, along with Professor Stephen Bailey and assistant professor of dance Kathleen Ridlon (who directs the Center for Community Service) will serve as an advisory board for the program, Schroth stresses that it was student initiative that got the project started.

“This is an example of ‘freedom to flourish’ in the best sense of the term,” he said. “Our students engage in projects that represent their passions and interests. We just assist them as best we can.”

Training for Project GEM will begin this month.

Anna Meier

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