Linda Bowman, vice president of Promise Council McLean County, said the organization aims to reduce stress in students by providing mentoring and tutoring, and supplying physical needs like clothing and food.
“Our third mission is to increase parental support for kids in their education,” Bowman said. “So we plan to identify some programs and pay for them to get parents more involved, not only in parent conferences but some parent trainings and parent initiatives within school buildings.”
Bowman said the funds will be used in all three of the organization’s focus areas, but a majority of funds will be applied to their tutoring and mentoring efforts.
“A lot of these kids just need a positive role model in their lives, and so we will be investing some of the money in mentoring and tutoring,” Bowman said. “Our second promise to them is to help provide their physical needs that might keep them from doing well in school.”
Bowman said the effort will require additional mentor volunteers. Those interested can apply on the Promise Council website.
A press release from the organization states its mission is “to create a sustainable network of caring adults to connect and engage community resources to the specific needs of students as identified by teachers and staff at designated Promise Council schools.”
Bowman said every school with a Promise Council started by first approaching the Promise Council McLean County. From there, they run through a list of criteria.
“For example, what percentage of the population is low income? What percentage of the population speaks English as a second language? Are their special populations in the school?” Bowman said. “Then we interview the principal and the teachers about what they think their greatest needs are. And if we feel like what we do as an organization can help that school, then we accept them as a Promise Council school.”
The organization is currently immersed in 13 schools around McLean County.
The Promise Council became a not-for-profit in June.
“The main mission of the board is to, from this day forward, raise funds and increase our resources so that we can expand into other schools. We have not been able to do that. We’re kind of tapped out. But, hopefully in the future, we’ll be able to go into more schools,” Bowman said. “Of course our vision would be that every school in Bloomington-Normal and McLean County would have a Promise Council that could help."
The Promise Council was one of 200 organizations chosen by State Farm from an applicant pool of 2,000. Finalists were tasked with rallying voters through social media. The 40 organizations with the most votes won a grant.
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