Local groups committed to educating area youth

Education is happening all around the Greater Itasca Area.

Opportunities include specialized instruction for reading, writing, and math; library programs; and lifesaving boat and water safety instruction.

“The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation is proud to offer residents many opportunities for life-long education and training. We are currently in our scholarship cycle, which runs from January 15 to March 15. The Foundation provides scholarships and educational awards for all types of training, from scholarships for people who want to live here, stay here and work here, to those that want to attend school outside the area,” notes Brianna Spry, Program Administrator at the Community Foundation. “It’s simple to apply. Just go to our website at www.gracf.org.”

The Foundation also provided numerous grants for education and training during the Annual Grant Cycle. Three of the organizations that received grants to provide education and training are listed below. Please read about the great things each organization is doing, and feel free to contact them for more information about how you can attend or get involved.

Great Minds Learning Center receives funds for specialized instruction.

PHOTO: Marianne Jylha, Executive Director of Great Minds Learning Center, receives three grants through the Annual Grant Cycle from Brianna Spry, Program Administrator at the Community Foundation.

Great Minds Learning Center, helps children and adults develop effective reading, writing and math skills. Students gain confidence as they learn these skills so that they can accomplish their educational and personal goals.

Using the Barton Reading System helps students with dyslexia and other reading difficulties. The Barton Reading and Spelling System is a multi-sensory, researched-based, structured literacy program that is Orton-Gillingham influenced. This system provides a framework for instruction; however, each lesson is customized for individual student needs. Funds were used to purchase a Level 2 book, and a Level 4 book to supplement current teaching materials.

Great Minds is the only organization in Itasca County that provides specialized one-on-one instruction to students with dyslexia. There is an increased demand for these services as parents seek to help their children reach grade-level reading proficiency.

Funds were awarded from the TJ Maroney/Barzen Donor Advised Fund- $500; Greater Itasca Area Community Fund- $259; and Kosak Family Fund- $153.

Grand Rapids Friends of the Library support children and teen programming

PHOTO: (L-R) Chris Fulton, Executive Director of the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation; Mary Jo Wimmer, Friends of the Grand Rapids Area Library; Cathy Sayward, Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation Administrative Assistant.

The Grand Rapids Area Friends of the Library supports the library and staff, the library's mission, and enhances the library's resources and services. The group supports the library in many ways, including its' physical space, however the largest portion of their annual budget supports children and teen programming. This includes children's story time, summer reading programs, Kids Spot play area, Teen Zone, LEGO Club, Anime Club, TeenReads, Monday book time and prize books for reading programs. Due to limited resources, many of these programs would not occur if not for the Friends of the Library funding. Funding also provides current books and magazines for children and teens, increasing the options available for local youth.

The Grand Rapids Area Friends of the Library received funding From the Gibbons Family Fund- $1,000; TJ Maroney/Barzen Donor Advised Fund- $500; Online Donation- $300; and Peter Burich and Gloria Sella Burich Fund- $200.

Itasca County Sheriff's Boat & Water Safety Program educates thousands of students

PHOTO: (L-R) Paul Provinzino, Deputy, Itasca County Sheriff’s Office; Brianna Spry, Program Administrator, Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation; Vic Williams, Itasca County Sheriff; Chris Fulton, Executive Director, Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation

On an annual basis, the Itasca County Sheriff's Boat & Water Safety Program visits every elementary school in Itasca County (including St. Joseph’s School) to talk and discuss Boat and Water Safety education on our area lakes. This program, which originated in 1988, has educated children from Kindergarten through 8th grade.

In 2018, approximately 3400 children attended the program. At some area schools, students are educated in a pool by using a canoe and high school swim team members to demonstrate life saving techniques. Discussion includes how to recognize drowning and how to assist in a crisis. In all elementary programs, a volunteer dive member from the Sheriff's All Volunteer Dive Team, and recently a federal park ranger, are there to assist.

Discussion also includes how to recognize and treat hypothermia. The program uses props and videos to help with the visual-learner type students. Funds will be used to purchase materials, props, and giveaways to children in schools. This is a proactive approach to educate all youth in our community by the Recreational Department (Boat & Water) at the Itasca County Sheriff's Office.

A grant for $1,061 was awarded from the Streufert Peace and Safety Fund.

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350 NW 1st Ave, Suite E  | Grand Rapids, MN 55744  |  218-999-9100

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