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R.I.S.E. program wins Trailblazer Take it to the Court grant for school improvements

R.I.S.E. program wins Trailblazer Take it to the Court grant for school improvements
Posted on 03/05/2015

A new grant from Wells Fargo and the Portland Trailblazers Foundation will improve learning space for students in the R.I.S.E. program. R.I.S.E. stands for Reaching Individual Students Every Day. It is a behavioral growth program for students with special needs. 

The Take it to the Court grant  is for $6,000. It will fund outdoor sport courts and play equipment to help students practice positive social skills and physical activity, and reading materials to support converting an abandoned classroom into a library.

Members of the R.I.S.E. team, John Gordon, Heather Johnson, Hallie Carpenter and Kathleen Walker, traveled to the Moda Center in Portland this month to accept the check for the grant. The R.I.S.E. award was $6,000.

There were 320 grant applications from schools in 31 counties. Fifteen schools were selected for awards up to $7,500. Portland Trailblazers starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews partnered with Wells Fargo Regional President Tracy Curtis to present the awards to the 15 participants. 

The following grant narrative was submitted with the grant application:


Grant Use: Repairing and repainting a sport court, building playground equipment, creating a small library and study space for at-risk students

Grant Narrative

Four years ago in the darker days of the recession, McMinnville School District created a program for our neediest and highest-risk students. The R.I.S.E. program is a program for students in grades K-12 who have social and emotional challenges and have struggled to find success in school.

Many students in the R.I.S.E. program have been victims of trauma, abuse and neglect. In 2011 there was a need to find a way to support these students; however, limited funding to create such a program. Therefore the R.I.S.E. program houses 55 students in grades from Kindergarten through Twelfth grade in the upstairs of an old elementary school building that was built in 1914, the Adams' building. Since its' glory days the classrooms in the Adams' building continues to deteriorate, along with many other building components including the play structure and equipment which was removed for safety concerns.

For many of the students in the R.I.S.E. program, it is the first time they have been able to find success in school. The staff is made up of caring, patient and hard-working professionals who routinely go above and beyond to support the high needs of the students. Classes focus on reading, writing and mathematics; but there is also a significant emphasis on positive social skills development and developing successful interpersonal skills. Without the support of the R.I.S.E. program these students are at a high-risk of continuing to struggle in school, potentially drop out of school and in many cases these students are at a high-risk of engaging in illegal activities and possible jail time or incarceration. For these reasons the staff and leadership at the RISE program understand a need for a significant emphasis on those positive social skills, improving interpersonal interactions and increasing student self-esteem.

With a generous donation of $6,000 from the Trail Blazers Foundation and Wells Fargo, the R.I.S.E. program could use $4,500 to partner with Northwest Recreation or another similar company to bring back to life dilapidated outdoor sport courts, and design and build play equipment for the younger students in the R.I.S.E. programs to use as a vehicle to practice those positive social skills and get much needed physical activity. The remaining $1,500 would be used to convert an abandoned classroom into a library with reading materials, and quiet study areas for older students who are working to quickly recover credits or study for G.E.D. testing. The generous $6,000 grant for the R.I.S.E. program would create a significant, lasting impact for some of the neediest and most deserving students in Yamhill County and in the state.

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