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Effingham, Illinois will be the site of a September 10th Conversation on Philanthropy and Rural Public Education. (Picture of the historic Effingham County Courthouse)

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Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation Hosts Community Conversation on Rural Schools, Philanthropy, and Economic Development

August 26, 2015

The Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation, Rural Schools Collaborative, and Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools are co-hosting two community conversations about strengthening local rural schools through philanthropy. The events will be held on Thursday, September 10th at 1:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, located at 157 & 170, Exit 160, Effingham, Illinois. Attendees may attend the session that best suits their schedules.

The discussion will center on why public education is a linchpin issue in rural economic development, and how community foundations can work with small towns and rural school districts to build philanthropic assets. Topics will include:

  • The school and community legacy
  • Why public education is essential to rural economic development
  • Philanthropy’s crucial role
  • Establishing and building school foundations
  • The role of the community foundation
  • How the Rural Schools Collaborative can assist this effort.

The Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation (SICF) is a perfect partner for the Rural Schools Collaborative. Based out of Effingham, the Foundation was recently awarded the 2015 Outstanding Leadership in Community and Economic Development Award by East Central Illinois Economic Development Corporation at the organization’s 31st Annual Celebration Awards Banquet held on May 21, 2015 at the Thelma Keller Convention Center.

Joedy Hightower, SICF president and CEO, explained why their work with the Rural Schools Collaborative and the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools (AIRSS) was so important. “We serve small rural communities in 12 counties in Illinois. The very survival of these communities is dependent on strong schools. The role of a community foundation in supporting the education of our youth is quickly evolving from the traditional function of awarding annual scholarships to graduating seniors, to strategically building private philanthropic resources that address the unique needs of the communities we serve.” She went on to add, “We hope this community conversation will identify new partnerships and strengthen existing collaborations that will enable us to take on today’s educational challenges.”

Hightower will join AIRSS executive director, David Ardrey, Galesburg (IL) Community Foundation executive director, Josh Gibb, and Rural Schools Collaborative director, Gary Funk, in a panel discussion that will involve the audience. Funk will provide an overview of the key issues and moderate the discussion.

Please RSVP for the event at jhightower@enrichingourcommunity.org . Admission is free.

Please read more on why public education is essential to the future of rural places.

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