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Lilly Endowment recognizes Clay County CAPE program as one of best in Indiana, source says

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Minnis and Associates says that Lilly Endowment Inc. is extremely pleased with the way Clay County is utilizing the CAPE grant (Community Alliances to Promote Education).

"According to Sara B. Cobb, Endowment vice president for education, Clay has one of the better CAPE programs in the state," Bill Minnis said, whose firm was hired to assist in the grant writing process.

Clay County was fortunate to receive a three year $5,000,000 CAPE grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. in January 2002. The mission of this grant is to improve reading skills, communication skills and employment opportunities which will give all citizens in Clay County the chance to better their lives. To strengthen existing programs is the vision of the CAPE grant.

"This community is very ambitious in proposing plans to improve the quality of life in Clay County. The only thing we found not to be on target in our evaluation was prevention site renovation," Minnis said.

Because facilities became available through CAPE grant funding, committee members worked with a Title One committee to secure a four-year federally funded Even Start grant which will provide family literacy programs at the old CVS building, which is slated to be open in August.

Target populations of the CAPE grant include early learners, birth to 8 years, and 15-19 year-old-learners. Prevention services will help young children prepare for school and the intervention services will provide assistance for students to stay in school and acquire needed employment skills. Quality adult education components might link basic skills instruction, community service projects, job-shadowing, work experience, computer skills instruction and employability skills to meet the needs and goals of adults.

When he presented the evaluation to the Clay County Literacy Advisory Council Tuesday at YMCA, Minnis said additional goals were added to the original objectives.

The first addendum was in the review of adult education programs, how more could be brought to the county while utilizing existing opportunities. Secondly, additional funding for programs implemented with the CAPE grant must be found to guarantee sustainability. A third component for adult distance learning was not an original priority, but has potential for additional funding opportunities if added to the CAPE program. That, according to Minnis, would prove to Lilly Endowment Inc. that Clay County is not satisfied with the initial proposal and wants to grow. And lastly, technological expansion is needed such as the design of a user-friendly Web site for workforce development.

Mary Yelton recognized the outgoing school superintendent.

"I wanted to mention that this will probably be Dr. Rohr's last meeting before he goes to the Greater Clark school corporation. None of us would be sitting in this meeting without the help of Dr. Rohr because he wrote the initial letter to CAPE, receiving the first $50,000 of the grant. We're all so very appreciative of his efforts," Yelton, coordinator of prevention services under the CAPE grant, said.

Clay Community Schools Superintendent Thomas Rohr said the strongest focus needs to be on the preschoolers and getting them ready to learn. Even though the initial grant was for the preschool and alternative school, the main goal is to avoid the need for the alternative school, and the only way to do that according to Rohr is to make improvements in the early years.

Kathy Knust, curriculum coordinator for the school corporation, said the local school board extended reading time in kindergarten by 45 minutes a day to have every student reading at grade level be second grade and the program has made a significant difference. But because state funding is no longer available, the board may be forced to make cuts. She said the administration is looking at ways to salvage the extra 45 minutes with grants that may be available next year.

Pam Fischer, CAPE task force member and first grade teacher at Jackson Township Elementary, said she has taught for 19 years and last year kindergarten students came into her classroom better prepared with reading standards mastered. She said she didn't want to loose the reading teachers and urged those in attendance to contact school board members regarding the program.

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