MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Schools

May 6, 2010

Foundation works with Muskogee, Hilldale on grant process

After awarding more than $141,000 in grants to Muskogee Public Schools last year, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation is reaching out to Hilldale Public Schools.

Foundation Executive Director Mary Barr discussed grant possibilities with Muskogee and Hilldale educators Wednesday afternoon.

The Jimmie Johnson Foundation/Lowe’s Tool Box for Education Grants program awarded grants ranging from $10,000 to $44,764 to five MPS schools last November. The Foundation was set up by champion NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, whose wife, Chandra Johnson, graduated from Muskogee High School in 1996. The Jimmie Johnson Foundation/Lowe’s Toolbox for Education Grants program awards grants in Muskogee and Tulsa, as well as El Cajon, Calif., where Jimmie Johnson grew up and Charlotte, N.C., where the Johnsons live.

Barr told the Muskogee and Hilldale educators that the Johnsons are concerned about cuts in education.

Hilldale Upper and Lower Elementary School assistant principal Taf Morphis said possible Foundation grants offer a “great opportunity” for the school.

“The kids in the Hilldale district have needs as well as in the Muskogee school district, he said.

Morphis said the school is seeking grant money to restructure its physical fitness program. He said the school hopes to get new indoor equipment as well as more fitness-oriented outdoor equipment.

Barr said grant applications would be open to public schools, grades kindergarten through 12, in the Muskogee, Tulsa and Hilldale school districts. When asked if Muskogee’s Early Childhood Center, a pre-kindergarten program, would qualify, Barr said the decision would be up to officials at Lowe’s.

But, she left the possibility open by telling the ECC representatives “let’s you and I connect.”

Barr explained the procedure and rules for applying for the grant. She said applications open July 15 and will be accepted through Oct. 15.

“If you want to be my friend, you will turn the application in before then,” she said.

Criteria for a strong proposal include a clearly articulated proposal, measurable goals and impact and a detailed budget. Applications also could be supplemented by a video or pictures, she said.

“Please do not put a miscellaneous line item on the application,” she said. “Also include shipping, handling and tax estimates.”

Harris-Jobe Elementary School Principal Kim Fleak said she hopes to get funding for a fitness track and outdoor classroom.

“Our school is in an upper-class neighborhood, but 82.9 percent of our students are on free and reduced lunches,” she said. “That area of Muskogee does not have a park at all.”

Sadler Arts Academy Principal Maudye Winget said the school’s $41,976 grant from the Jimmie Johnson Foundation helped the school build an outdoor classroom adjacent to the cafeteria.

“We want to use that for an outdoor arts program,” she said.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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