Grant $ supports students, teachers, and a local business
Like many small businesses Flying Bear Books in downtown Newaygo felt the impact of the pandemic.In early March of this year, when things started moving fast and shutdowns were ordered the store, like many others, faced a very uncertain future. Owners John and Marsha Reeves were discussing how to proceed if at all with the bookstore.
While working through options and possibilities several unforeseen events unfolded that provided some hope and light for the beleaguered store. The prognosis for Flying Bear had been helped by Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy (MGLVA) who contacted the bookstore for help in shipping books to students statewide and the Newaygo After School program who ordered 35 different titles of various quantities to be sent to their students.
“The normal summer business was still off by about 50% but the MGLVA and Newaygo school systems were helping us to weather the storm,” said Marsha Reeves. “Whether or not the bookstore would make it through the winter was still up in the air.”
Meanwhile in Grant middle school teacher Stephanie Dood had put the grantsmanship skills learned at a Fremont Area Community Foundation series to to work.
“As a child, I grew watching my mother teach and write grants to develop programs addressing the needs of Newaygo County students. For ten years, I have been writing and managing 1-2 grants while teaching. Most often they focus on summer programming to provide targeted experiences for students with social emotional needs, along with building literacy and leadership skills.
“After the conclusion of the Foundation series, I sat with the Grant Public Schools administration team and asked to develop a framework that builds relationships with foundations, local businesses, and educators to provide a greater impact in improving student opportunity,” she explained. “With the green light to go ahead, support of the great team in Grant, and wisdom from the FACF, we began learning and growing in our understanding.
“In the 2019-2020 grant cycle, we are currently sitting at a grand total of $650,758.30, with three proposals left on the table for notification in December. This amount is above and beyond the COVID Relief Fund. For someone who typically brings in $10,000-$15,000 in grant funds to the district, never did I imagine reaching six figures to fund the needs and lessen the gap within our rural community.”
The goal of partnering with local businesses brought her to Flying Bear.
“In the early fall a middle school special education teacher from Grant (Dood) came to the store and declared that she had some grant money that she intended to spend local whenever and wherever possible,” said John Reeves. “ We were asked to see if we could obtain about 15 titles of various quantities and to provide a quote. We went to work and provided a proposal that was accepted and the books were ordered and delivered.”
“John has been able to locate 1,175 copies of various titles needed for our Middle School Language Arts Department,” said Ms. Dood. “This will allow students one-to-one copies of classroom books for novel studies, grades 5-8. With the support of grant funding through Michigan Department of Education, Fremont Area Community Foundation, The NEA Foundation, and The Gerber Foundation, students at Grant Public Schools will begin to experience a greater impact in literacy resources and development.”
“This is just the beginning,” added Dood. “Great things are happening in Grant.”