Education foundation grants, support growing

FORTVILLE — In the three years Andrea Yovanovich has served as director of the Mt. Vernon Education Foundation, she’s seen the demand for help from the organization grow significantly, along with the support it’s received.

In the 2013-14 school year, the foundation raised more than $25,000 through grants and donations. The money was awarded to teachers and school staff members throughout the district. But in the 2014-15 school year, those donations swelled to more than $48,000, nearly doubling what it received in past years.

Yovanovich credits the rise in support to the community organizations and businesses that bolster the foundation’s efforts through donations and sponsorship, but she also says she continues to push herself personally to set the bar high. The first step this year, she said, is the foundation’s upcoming community race.

Scheduled for Sept. 26, the 5K and one-mile run and walk will start at 8:30 a.m. at Mt. Vernon High School. The event previously has drawn 200 to 225 participants, but this year, organizers are shooting for 500.

“I think we can do it,” Yovanovich said. “We’re edging closer and closer.”

The race is open to community members of all ages, she said, but she hopes to encourage Mt. Vernon teachers, specifically, by offering a $500 grant to educators who help raise at least $1,250 for the event.

Yovanovich said those grants can be put toward a variety of programs, such as professional development training and classroom upgrades.

“What we strive for as a foundation is to support teachers in all of their creative endeavors,” she said. “We don’t want them to shy away from any ideas because they don’t think they could pull it off. Sometimes they need a little extra support to push themselves and try something different, and that’s what we’re around for.”

Heather Whitaker, principal at Mt. Comfort Elementary School, has worked with Yovanovich to apply for several grants over the years — some small, some large.

One of the school’s programs, “One School, One Book,” which supplies each student, teacher and staff member — cafeteria staff and bus drivers included — with a chapter book to read and discuss with one another, was funded last year with a grant from the foundation.

Whitaker said the gain from those grants — no matter the size — can make a big difference in what her teachers are able to accomplish in the classroom.

“Even the small things our school can’t always afford to pay for can make a big difference in the classroom,” she said.

As former principal of Fortville Elementary School and a current board member of the foundation, Susan Bennett has been on both the giving and receiving end of those grants.

What compelled her to join the organization, she said, is the support she was able to receive as a principal from the foundation. Now, she’s lending her efforts to pay that forward to current educators, she said.

“Support for the foundation has been building, and the vision is to continue on the path and continue increasing support along the way, and I’m glad to be a part of it,” she said.

At a glance

Mt. Vernon Education Foundation 5K run/walk and 1-mile fun run

When: Saturday, Sept. 26, from 8 to 11 a.m.

Where: Mt. Vernon High School, 3112 N. County Road 200W, Fortville, Indiana.

Sign up:

Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or