KIMBERLY • Students at Kimberly and Jerome middle schools are learning how to give. Through a grant, students were given pools of money to award to area nonprofits. It was a lesson in philanthropy. Students researched the nonprofits and chose how much to give to each one.
It started last fall, the principal of Kimberly Middle School applied for a grant through CenturyLink, a telecommunications company that also offers middle schools philanthropy grants to be used for area nonprofit groups.
The application began the process of what would later impact the lives of his students, teachers and community.
Jerome Middle School did the same.
Both Magic Valley schools have been awarded grants through the Monroe, La.-based telecommunications company and administered through the Idaho Department of Education, which they in turn donated to community nonprofit groups. The passing of the checks happened Friday at the respective schools.
“We were notified in January that we were one of the schools selected to participate in this particular grant program,” said Matt Schvaneveldt, principal of Kimberly Middle School. “They donated $3,000 to the school for the sole purpose of distributing to community nonprofits.”
After studying area nonprofit groups, Kimberly Middle School selected two — the Fifth Judicial District CASA program and Boys and Girls Club of the Magic Valley, both receiving $1,500. Jerome Middle School chose three nonprofits to give donations — South Central Community Action, $1,020; St. Luke’s Magic Valley Health Foundation, $1,040; and the Jerome Animal Shelter, $840.
Students had to research the nonprofit groups in their areas, consult with their peers and teachers, and decide which ones would receive grants. Kimberly eventually involved the whole school in the selection process, whereas Jerome’s seventh-grade advisory class headed up its process.
“As a class, they decided it was something they wanted to do,” said Janet Avery, principal of Jerome Middle School. The school participates in a number of fundraisers and service projects throughout the year.
“We use service learning to build school culture. We’ve done several things throughout the year, in sweat equity, to give back to the community,” she said. “We feel so appreciative to the community of Jerome for supporting us by passing a bond that allowed us to have this new school. We strive to help and support the community that has supported us. ...
“The service we give may not always be big things, sometimes they’re small things,” Avery continued. “I’m really proud of our students.”
Jerome advisory teacher Kim Lickley said it was a memorable experience for her seventh-grade students to learn more about the community.
“It has been a great experience for them to learn the value of a dollar and give back to the community by listening to the leaders of these organizations and hearing about their needs,” she said in a prepared statement.
CenturyLink is dedicated to enhancing communities, said Jim Schmit, vice president and general manager of CenturyLink in Idaho. This is the second year of the grant program in the Gem State.
Kimberly and Jerome were two of 10 middle schools in Idaho to receive the grants through the CenturyLink Middle School Philanthropic program this year.
“This program is a unique opportunity to enable students to connect with their community in a way that will raise awareness of needs and hopefully plant a seed with them for a lifelong interest in giving back,” he said.
Also on Friday, Jenni Jacobson, a teacher at Harrison Elementary School in Twin Falls, was awarded a grant of more than $3,500 as part of CenturyLink Foundation’s Teachers and Technology grant program, administered by the Idaho Department of Education and awards teachers in CenturyLink’s local service areas who have innovatively implemented technology in their classroom to increase student achievement. Jacobson is among 16 statewide winners of the grant, with an approximate total of $70,000 donated in Idaho this year.
A lifelong interest in service to the community is exactly what Schvaneveldt hopes will begin with the students at his school.
“What a great opportunity for our kids to learn about our nonprofits and what each one does,” Schvaneveldt said. “I don’t think they’ve had that opportunity in the past. ... I can see by what we introduced to the students through CenturyLink that this can grow and be taken on by our students.”