What a year! It is the time for year-end countdowns and SAF has some of our own. Today we look back and celebrate the amazing year this has been for the Grand Rapids Public Schools and the Student Advancement Foundation.
From the SAF Staff, our Top 10 moments:
#10 GR8 Sports, Great Kids
In February, 2016, SAF launched GR8 Sports, Great Kids, underwriting K-8 afterschool sports activities for GRPS students. We introduced 12-year-old Dahlia, a three-sport athlete, who was empowered through athletics. One of her highlights is becoming a top star on her middle school wrestling team.
#9 GRPS- My Choice!
In October, GRPS announced a historic Count Day, with an increase of 160 students from the 2015/2016 school year. “Today we join the ranks of a select few urban districts, who have turned around and are experiencing growth,” said Superintendent Neal.
#8 Rising Scholars
In March, 110 students became Rising Scholars, a distinction that is awarded to high school students who complete Summer Learning Academies (SLA), a program of believe2become. During the Rising Scholars recognition ceremony at GVSU, SLA program officer Tasha Cruz told the students and their families “We know that the biggest award is the one you’ve already received: the sense of accomplishment and purpose that comes from setting a goal, working hard and achieving what you set out to do. That is something that will never lose power, never crash and never get lost.”
#7 GRPS Strings
In June, thanks to the passion and energy of SAF volunteer Sue Chapla, SAF opened the GRPS Violins & Strings Fund with a grant from the Women Who Care of Kent County. SAF made its first grant from the fund in September 2016 to purchase 10 new violins for the GRPS elementary strings program.
#6 The new GRPS Museum School garners national recognition.
In September, GRPS earned the designation of XQ Super School for its innovative model of design thinking and community collaboration.
#5 SAF raised over $315,000 at the 13th Annual MindShare Gala
TheMindShare: Transform took place at the JW Marriott this past April. The night featured GRPS junior Luvenia, an accomplished young poet and artist, who shared an original poem with the audience. Afterwards, Luvenia exclaimed: “MindShare, more like MIND-BLOWING!”
#4 GRPS participated in the 7th Annual MSU Tailgate and Football Game
Reach for the Stars in East Lansing wasn’t your typical football outing, though. In addition to the sporting experience, more than 150 students had the opportunity to get hands-on with science—visiting MSU’s Abrams Planetarium and making elephant toothpaste with the MSU Science Theatre.
#3 Our amazing community partners, who make a difference every day!
Just a few highlights include: Deloitte’s Impact Day at Mulick Park Elementary in June; Good Things Happen to Readers providing the wonderful new book They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel to every first grader; the annual Girls in Sports Day at GVSU for middle school girls; and, (just this week!), Lake Michigan Credit Union’s Third Annual Santa Squad Visit to two GRPS elementary schools.
#2 Marking a 12% increase in GRPS graduation rates!
And celebrating with our 2016 GRPS seniors, by supporting a graduation celebration breakfast with students and families.
#1 Living our mission by providing over $1.2 million in philanthropic support to the Grand Rapids Public Schools during the 2015/2016 school year alone.
It is because of the fantastic team at GRPS and our amazing students that we get to do what we do.
“SAF is such a vital part of the success of our schools,” said Principal Minnella. “We love and appreciate all the extraordinary experiences the students have because of your hard work. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Thank you for being a part of this wonderful journey with us. We look forward to sharing 2017 with you and helping our students to reach new heights!