Maeve O'Dea, program director for the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, announced a $50,000 challenge grant to help the fundraising efforts.
ADAMS, Mass. — For the next three years, David Bissaillon will be passing the hat to reach a half-million dollars.
The new chairman of the Adams Cheshire Educational Partnership announced that to celebrate its 10-year anniversary, the partnership has set a goal of increasing the endowment by $232,000, raising the total to $500,000.
The money will be used to increase support of educational programs for the two-school district.
"It's a worthy goal," Bissaillon said during a celebration of the group's anniversary on Thursday night at Hoosac Valley Middle and High School. "In the end, better schools make better communities."
ACE formed after a 2002 retreat with 64 of the town's stakeholders, which Superintendent Alfred Skrocki said was "such a rewarding experience."
The fund support programs such as the weeklong trip fifth-graders take to Connecticut, the school newspaper, the purchase of new technology and a therapeutic horseback riding. More than 80 programs have been supported with about $75,000 over the last 10 years, according to Bissaillon.
"We could not keep the program going without the ACE grant," said Nancy Parrott, highlighting the educational aspects of the Nature's Classroom trip she leads to Conneccticut each year.
But the trip is "much more" than just education for the students, she said, with many who struggle in the classroom find a learning environment and all learning to become more independent.
"This program is near and dear to my heart," Parrott said.
Adviser to the student newspaper Colleen Byrd also raved about the support of the ACE grants. She said recently she was talking to students about the novel they were reading, "The Lord of the Flies," and the conversation moved from bullying to how the students should talk to each other and members of the community.
But it wasn't because they were reading the novel that drove the conversation, it was that an ACE grant allowed the class to see a live production of the play at the Barrington Stage. Project-based and 21st Century Learning is exactly the type of education the students need but can only happen with ACE grants, said Byrd.
Teacher Colleen Byrd said the ACE grants have improved her students' learning.
"Those are the things that work and getting the money from the ACE foundation is what make that happen," she said.
The ACE endowment is currently at $268,000, which was initially formed with a $30,000 challenge grant from the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation's William J. & Margery S. Barrett Fund.
With 10 years of experience, the current ACE board members feel they can do even more and are embarking on the fundraising effort.
Again, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation is helping to kick it off with a $50,000 challenge grant — reducing the amount needed from the community to $182,000.
Program Director Maeve O'Dea announced the newest grant, saying ACE is exactly the type of program former teacher Margery Barrett would want to support.
As for the school district, incoming Superintendent Kristen Gordon vowed to continue to support ACE by taking a seat on the board and helping them grow.
The celebration also included short speeches from Bernie Pinsonnault, a founding board member who is now stepping down, and ACE's first chairman, Howard Wineberg. Both expressed awe in the program's longevity so far and thanks too all who helped make it happen.
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