Helping Camp Compass receive a $25,000 grant

As originally published in the Our Towns section of The State Journal-Register on Sunday, May 31, 2015.

John KelkerOriginally, we planned for this week’s column to focus on the $2.3 million dollars of community investment United Way announced this week. However, an opportunity arose to help out one of our local programs… an opportunity for our entire community to come together to help. As a result, we felt there was no greater way to honor our investors than to wait one week to discuss our 2015 community investments and utilize this week’s column to lend a helping hand.

Camp Compass, a program of the Family Service Center and a funded initiative of United Way of Central Illinois, is one of the 200 causes selected as finalists for a State Farm Neighborhood Assist grant. The program was selected from a pool of 4,000 submitted applications and now has the opportunity to earn one of forty grants to be awarded by State Farm.

State Farm Neighborhood Assist is a Facebook-based competition which began in 2012 so the public could help State Farm decide where a portion of their corporate donations should go. The program consists of three phases. First, Facebook users had the opportunity to submit causes that they felt deserved a $25,000 grant. Next, the State Farm Youth Advisory Board narrowed the submissions down to the top 200. Finally, Facebook users have the opportunity to vote to select the top 40.

Each of the 40 winning submissions will receive a $25,000 grant, for a total of $1 million. Camp Compass’ cause “Close the Achievement Gap,” is currently in the top 40 and needing your vote.

To vote, simply search State Farm Neighborhood Assist on Facebook and search for “Close the Achievement Gap”. Voting ends on June 3rd, but each user can cast up to ten votes each day. Moreover, you have the option to cast all ten of your votes for Camp Compass with a single click.

You’ll find some wonderful projects listed among the 200 finalists. However, Camp Compass’ Close the Achievement Gap is the only cause from the Springfield area with an opportunity to secure this grant and receive additional dollars for our community.

For those not familiar with Family Service Center, Camp Compass is a summer program for elementary school age children from homeless and low-income families in Springfield. The program provides academic instruction by certified teachers in the mornings to maintain and improve reading, writing and math skills, with the goal of avoiding summer learning loss and having the campers return to school in the fall ready to learn.

Afternoons at Camp Compass focus on enrichment activities and camp experiences. The campers learn about the arts, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), healthy living and sports including swimming lessons. The camp also plans field trips to get them out into the community and expand their minds. There is no cost to the campers and they are provided transportation, meals and necessary supplies.

Camp Compass fills a profound need in our community, and over the last two summers it has shown measurable results in increasing scores in reading and math.

The State Farm Neighborhood Assist contest offers a great opportunity to bring additional funds to our community and we ask each of you to vote as often as possible over the next four days by logging on to Facebook and casting your vote for Camp Compass’ “Close the Achievement Gap” program.

You can access Camp Compass’project by visiting: www.bit.ly/campcompass.

John Kelker is the president at United Way of Central Illinois. Look for United Way columns weekly in Our Towns.