The plan at a launch party for a new education foundation for Kansas City Public Schools was to have students show off the kind of work they can do.
But a table full of small wooden prototypes represented only one part of the persistence that robotics students demonstrated in creating the metallic machine on the floor beside them.
The process that produced “The Low-Shooter,” “The Pincher,” “The High Shooter” and other prototypes required more than the creativity of the students and their mentors.
These things cost money.
And for that, Lincoln College Prep sisters Melina and Kara Richardson said, there were bake sales, searches for sponsors, grant applications, raffles, bake sales, bake sales and more bake sales.
“A ton of bake sales,” they said.
St. Luke’s Health System physician Leslie Anne Fields wanted to help see to it that Kansas City teachers could give their students the same learning opportunities that she had growing up in the St. Louis area.
She and Adriana Pecina, a program officer with the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, are co-chairing the community board that will oversee the foundation they have named the Catalyst Fund.
“I wanted to know what I can do to help give kids who look like me the tools to succeed,” said Fields, who is black. “How can each Kansas Citian be a catalyst for change?”
Fields, whose mother was an assistant superintendent in the Ferguson-Florissant School District, prospered in classrooms that she said had a lot of outside help supporting their debate teams, science clubs and leadership groups.
“People had the resources to do that,” she said.
Most area school districts have educational foundations, and the Kansas City Public Schools has tried to establish its own with community help more than once in the past, only to see them fade.
The Catalyst Fund’s board has set a goal to raise $100,000 for its first year of grants to carry through the 2015-2016 school year, supporting innovative teacher projects and programs that could use extra resources to succeed.
The district brought out many supporters to the launch party Thursday at the Polsinelli Law Offices on the Plaza. Visitors saw the Lincoln students and their robotics, Carver Dual Language Elementary School students touting their school in English and Spanish, and Paseo Academy jazz band performers, among other demonstrations.
Keyon Woods, a Paseo senior, was sketching fashion designs on the spot for onlookers — dashing out a sketch of a sparkling diamondlike gown for the Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Magic Flute opera along the way.
The fine and performing arts school strains to put together the resources it needs for its many varied productions, Woods said.
What could he see happen with some financial help?
“Better theater productions,” he said. “Finally some moving (stage) lights. Better lumber. Better sets.”
The robotics teams in the district, said Lincoln sophomore Gabe Calderon, could use “better tools,” he said. “Drill presses. Cutters.”
Fields said the board wants to open the door for more innovation across the district through funding grants for classrooms and buildings, from pre-kindergarten literacy to high-end high school projects in science, technology, engineering and math.
While teachers and administrators would be applying for the grants, anyone can share ideas on the website’s “Plant A Seed” page, she said. And, of course, anyone can donate.
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