Posted by Ronald Krannich on Jun 27, 2019
On June 26, the Rotary Club of Skidaway Island awarded $9,620 to five local children’s charities that are involved in improving reading and literacy skills, exploring creativity through music and art, and strengthening parenting skills that foster improved learning at home. The winning grant proposals emphasized programs that were (1) transformative, (2) sustainable, (3) scalable, and (4) preventive. Because these charities are homegrown and hands-on, they are expected to grow and do great things for Savannah’s children, families, and neighborhood communities.
The Awardees and Their Innovative Programs

After reviewing several proposals, Rotary’s selection committee awarded grants to help support the following innovative educational enrichment efforts of these organizations:
Horizons Savannah: $670 grant to fund the purchase of books for a 6-week summer reading program. Sixty middle school students will read the young adult versions of the popular and inspiring Hidden Figures,and 30 fourth graders will read a Harry Potter thriller, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Hosted by four independent schools (Bethesda Academy, St. Andrews School, Savannah Christian Preparatory School, and Savannah County Day School), Horizons Savannah is a kindergarten through eight grade summer enrichment program that works with 200 students drawn from several schools throughout Chatham County.

Loop It Up Savannah: $3,000 grant to help fund materials and supplies for its creative Music and Art for Young and Very Young Children programs. These programs are designed for underserved children 4 years old and younger. They provide creative art experiences that benefit academic and social development. The funds will cover 20+% of the budget for the August 5, 2019 through May 15, 2020 school year. Founded in 2008, Loop It Up Savannah is a community arts program which partners with schools, community centers, museums, and local businesses. Committed to the success of Savannah’s youth and passionate about the value of art in everyone’s life, Loop It Up introduces art and creativity to 5,000 young people in Savannah each year. It’s dedicated to supporting youth “to be all they can be” in art as well as in other aspects of their lives.

L.O.V.E. Mentors: $1,950 grant to fund scholarships for 15 Title 1 elementary school children to attend full-day summer camps. L.O.V.E. (Local Outreach Volunteer Educators) is a mentor program that tutors over 250 children each year in reading and math. Volunteers work one-on-one with early elementary students in 10 Savannah-Chatham County Title 1 schools who are not functioning at their appropriate age-grade level. Each summer the L.O.V.E. program sponsors 125 students who attend six local summer camps where they are exposed to additional learning and life experiences. These camps include the West Broad Street YMCA, Coastal YMCA, Frank Callen Boys & Girls Club, Massie Heritage Center, City of Savannah Art Camp, and Fresh Air Home.

Parent University: $3,000 grant to fund the Family STEM program, a two-hour interactive program. During 2019-2020, Parent University will offer four sessions of 12-15 participants each. The goal of this program is to build capacity of parents and caregivers to facilitate STEM learning, at home, with their children. The program has an in-person facilitator and uses STEMgineering Academy software available on mobile devises. Club funding will allow this program to continue for a fourth year. Parent University/Early Learning College, along with its Savannah Early Childhood Foundation (SECF), collaborates with Savannah-Chatham Public Schools in supporting strong families. It encourages parents to become more involved in the education of their children.

Y Readers Program: YMCA of Coastal Georgia: $1,000 grant to be used to purchase a book for each Y Reader student to take home at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Y Readers is a free before and after school program for 25 students at four different school locations. Its programs assist K-3rd grade school students reading below grade level through literacy-focused tutoring plus enrichment activities designed to support physical and social growth.

These five grants are consistent with Rotary International’s larger mission to help develop, support, and promote the next generation of leaders.

“Children are the future – teach them well and they will lead the way.”
Rotary’s Focus on Children

Founded in 1905, Rotary International is one of world’s largest service club organizations with over 1.2 million members operating from more than 35,000 chapters in 200+ countries. Much of Rotary’s work focuses on children’s health, education, and welfare. Indeed, it has a long history of innovative community-based initiatives that have resulted in:
  • immunizing 2.5 billion children against polio
  • promoting education and literacy through scholarships and hands-on teaching and reading programs
  • providing maternal and infant health care, including mobile prenatal clinics
  • Meaningful, Engaging, and Hands-On Local Experiences

Here on Skidaway Island members of the Rotary Club enjoy the hands-on experience and comradery of working with children and youth on a variety of meaningful and engaging projects that make living on Skidaway a very special experience. Most important of all, Rotary Skidaway is developing important long-term partnerships with two nearby schools -- Hesse School (K-8) and Isle of Hope School (PK-8). As partners, Rotary Club members become involved in everything from financing programs to teaching in the classroom, recognizing exceptional teachers, and working on student projects, such as the Fiddlenauts at Isle of Hope School.

Rotary Club’s involvement with children in Savannah include the following:
  1. Participating in the annual Rotary Read-In at schools throughout Savannah by providing all the volunteers at Hesse and Isle of Hope Schools (In March 2019, the Rotary clubs of Savannah mobilized 527 volunteers who visited 566 K-3 classrooms in 31 schools to read to over 13,000 students, and donated nearly 1,000 books to the schools.)
  2. Supporting Savannah Early Childhood Education (SECF) programs at Parent University. SECF was founded by Rotarians and Kiwanians. It is taking the unique approach of “Stitching together community resources to ensure all Savannah children are ready for school.” SECF’s Mission is to “Break the cycle of persistent generational poverty and crime in Savannah. Its Vision is to "Enhance parenting and leadership skills for parents who have grown up in and live in poverty in Savannah urban neighborhoods beginning with and focusing on parents of children birth to 3 years old.” This is accomplished through Parent University/Early Learning College. The Rotary Club of Skidaway Island has provided financial support for more than 5 years.
  3. Assisting the award-winning Fiddlernauts at the Isle of Hope School in preparing for their exciting and life-changing National Student Astronaut Competition at NASA. This program has developed into a strong partnership with Rotary.
  4. Participating in the Junior Achievement teaching programs in area schools.
  5. Providing financial assistance to strengthen Hesse School’s computer technology. This is another strong partnership program with Rotary.
  6. Promoting after-school programs in cooperation with Loop It Up and Kids Café (at-risk children’s program of Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia).
  7. Training dozens of midwives in Guatemala, including prenatal care.
  8. Co-sponsoring an international Rotary college student to study in Savannah and further develop their exceptional leadership skills.

Part of a Larger Mission

Supporting children’s charities is important to realizing Rotary International’s larger service mission: to provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.

SEE ACCOMPANYING ATTACHED PHOTO – ROTARY_CHARITIES:Individuals in photo, from left to right: Lynn Gensamer, Andy Methven, and Francis Stanga