Marion schools receive Innovative Solutions grant

Funds will be used for ‘Backpack’ program

By Mike Douglas Marion School District

The Marion School District has been awarded a pair of grants valued at $2,000 each from Innovative Solutions for Educational Partnership (ISEP). Susan Shurley, Director of Special Services, and Dana Robbins, counselor at Marion Elementary School, were the staff members responsible for winning the pair of grants. ISEP awards private grants to Arkansas-based organizations such as public education agencies, public state agencies and non-profit to provide additional needed services to Arkansas students. The funds must be used for health-related programs. Shurley is using the grant for essential student needs such as winter clothing, eye glasses and other items throughout the school year. The funds are designated on an as-needed basis for a student through a request from a teacher. Robbins is using the funds for the MES Backpack Program, which provides nutritional food for students. Each Friday, Robbins fills a backpack for 21 students and sends it home. The only rule is that students cannot open the pack until they are home and they cannot drag them, since that would damage the packs. Backpacks were donated by Trinity in the Fields Anglican Church. Food packs are also determined by teacher recommendation and “observation in the cafeteria,” according to Robbins “and the kids are excited to get their backpack each Friday.” Shurley said to be awarded the grant, ISEP also wants the organization to have a secondary source to “fill in” when the grant is exhausted. She has other outside sources to help with her program. Robbins said Marion Methodist Church helps with the MES food program. “These grants give us an opportunity to help student,” Shurley said.

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