Ariel Foundation is proud to support the people and projects whose missions are to improve the quality of life in the Mount Vernon, Ohio area. Click the panels below for more detailed information on some of the notable gifts the Foundation has given.
County Wide Wayfinding: Discovery and Recommendations
Knox County is changing and growing with many destinations that visitors want to find for a variety of reasons, not to mention helping local folks find those same locations. A sampling of such things would be parks and natural settings, trails and rivers, higher education institutions, camps and educational opportunities, recreation, arts, music, entertainment, shopping and restaurants, local foods, festivals and events, museums, sports events and more. The Knox County Convention and Visitors Bureau felt that they were the right organization to lead an effort to develop a countywide wayfinding design; a consistent sign design what would become a brand for folks to look for and recognize. Working with EyeThink Graphic Design a complete sign toolkit will be developed to include templates and specifications for sign manufacture and implementation using local companies. This will be a system of signs and branding that any group or organization in the county could purchase to use to promote and locate their venue. Over time, we hope that directional signs throughout the county will be consistent in color and design. Countywide wayfinding will help visitors find their way and bring business to local merchants.
Expanding SPI open hours
SPI-Where Science and Play Intersect offers an affordable discovery space where visitors come to play and enrich their experience with explorations in science and other creative endeavors. In addition to more cerebral exploration, SPI’s new space the Wright Center hosts a new indoor climber. The new space is better able to serve school age children in addition to the younger ones, and is working to increase accessibility for families with children that attend school and caregivers with full-time jobs keeping them busy at work during the day. The Extended SPI Open Hours grant funding allows SPI to be open for additional time on Saturdays, Sunday afternoons, and until 8 pm on one night a week. Combined with other grant money from the Community Foundation, SPI is also open other weeknights until 6 pm.
Knox County Memorial Building Furnishings & Utilities
Welcome to the Knox County Memorial Building. The original committee’s mission to complete the elevator and restroom upgrade set out to: "Unleash the full potential of this beautiful county asset, making it totally accessible to every Knox County citizen and visitor or group for the first time in almost nine decades." The newly created KCMB Board looks forward to servicing, creating, and complementing events at the Theater and the Building. This has been made possible by the Ariel Foundation's support of the initial renovation and continues now for furnishing, refreshing, and harnessing the possibilities for event planning. Opportunities will exist for small intimate groups, as well as larger classroom, reception, wedding, or corporate needs, and includes plans for exciting new performances. The encompassing overall celebration to honor our Knox County Veterans for their service will be highlighted through the vibrant use and exposure of this magnificent Monument.
RMHC Mount Vernon Fund Matching Grant for Knox County Families
Located across the street from Nationwide Children’s Hospital is the world’s largest Ronald McDonald House complete with 137 guestrooms. Each year nearly 4,500 families are provided with a home-away-from-home while their child receives life-saving treatment. When families have a critically ill child in the hospital an important factor in their successful healing is having family close by for support. At the Ronald McDonald House, we take great strides to provide families of seriously ill children with a sense of normalcy in a stress-free environment. When you support Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio you make it possible for seriously ill children to have their family by their side while they receive life-saving treatments. Your gift provides families with warm meals, comfortable private bedrooms, personal care products, emergency clothing for families in need, and a support system for families to lean on.
Parent Support Initiative
The Parent Support Initiative is a new, five-year initiative in Knox County to ensure that parent training and supports are available to all parents of children from birth through high school. Funding supports a full-time Parent Resource Coordinator along with a universal “Stay Positive” campaign to engage parents and families in support of positive parenting messages, and to remove the stigma from accessing parent training and supports. The county-wide initiative of Triple P – the Positive Parenting Program will also provide training for providers from multiple county agencies, non-profits and the faith-based community to deliver Triple P in individual consultations, group sessions and parenting seminars, providing long-term sustainability for the program.
Knox County Head Start serves as the anchor agency for the Parent Support Initiative, and will continue to provide parenting trainings, including Active Parenting, Conscious Discipline for Parents, and specialized Infant/Toddler Parenting trainings, while supporting the county-wide implementation of Triple P. The Initiative is a collaboration of the Resilience Team of the Knox Health Planning Partnership, and the long-term goal of the project is to build a nurturing community that supports families, supports children and provides trauma-informed services. Funding is also provided by the United Way of Knox County and the Knox County Family and Children First Council.
Foster Care Recruitment and Retention
The Knox County Department of Job & Family Services’ Foster/Adopt Program is coordinated through its Children Services Division. The objective of the newly reorganized Foster/Adopt program is to provide more quality foster homes for the children in the agency’s care. Knox County has seen a significant increase in the number of children who require care outside of their own homes. Contributing factors for the increase include increasing stresses on families, especially the increased incidence of alcohol and drug addiction cases.
In 2017, KCDJFS created an initiative to recruit and retain foster parents within Knox County by encouraging community members to “Be a Part of a Child’s Journey – Foster the Future by Fostering a Child.” The grant award will be used for print and radio advertising, promotional materials, yard signs, informational packets, as well as ongoing retention efforts for current and new foster parents. The funding will also be used for Foster Parent Training.
Enrichment Programs 2017
This is a grant that funds or partially funds four different enrichment programs for students in the five city and county school districts. The programs are the All-County Honors Band Concert, the Mentorship for Leadership Program, County Debate Contest, and the Summer Institute Program.
The All-County Honors Band Concert held in April consists of 140 top notch band students from the middle schools and high schools in the city and county districts. The selected students spend time at their school practicing in small groups with their band director, and a 2-hour evening session for all. The final practice is held on the day of the concert with two guest conductors, culminating in an evening concert for the public free of charge at the Memorial Theater.
The Mentorship for Leadership Program served 15 juniors and seniors in all five city and county schools with a mentorship program throughout the school year. Students work 20 hours with mentors in the community at careers they are interested in pursuing along with 10 hours of seminars provided by the ESC. What a great experience to help students decide on future career choices.
The Knox County Debate Contest will be restarted in the 2017-18 school year with debate teams and their coaches participating in a one-day debate contest. The contest will involve interaction among the student debaters in the morning and team competition in the afternoon. Several community people will serve as judges for afternoon competition and high school teachers debate coaches will be there as well. Awards will be presented at the end of the day but the real value will be the experiences these high school debaters receive.
The Summer Institute Program at Ohio Northern University will help 43 gifted high school students in all of the city and county schools spend a week at college exploring career fields with other gifted students. This outstanding program includes a week-long campus experience with college classes which provides some students with a clearer picture of their life direction and all with rich memories of their week at ONU.
Station Break Meal Truck
The Station Break has been serving Mount Vernon and Knox County seniors since 1974. Services include medical transportation, social events and activities, on-site meals at the center and our flagship service, the home-delivered lunch meal program. The senior citizens utilizing the home delivery service have limited mobility and rely on our lunch time meal for the nutritional benefits that help with their overall health. An added benefit of this service is the opportunity we have to check on the well-being of our clients.
One of our top priorities in the coming years is to begin replacing the meal trucks in our ageing fleet. Most of our vehicles are over 12 years old and have over 100,000 miles on them. With the assistance of the Ariel Foundation grant, we were able to purchase a new meal truck that is outfitted with hot and cold compartments. This will enable us to continue our mission of providing meals to the 250 – 275 senior citizens that rely on this service on a daily basis.
SPI Camp 2017 Subsidy
SPI offers low cost subsidized summer camps that serve our community and offer a high-quality enriching experience to fulfill our mission to enhance Knox County through science and play. SPI camps include five nature camps (one of them a full day for the first time), one Spy Academy Camp, and two, week long, full day camps to replace Invention Convention camps called: Foundations of Invention: Creative Exploration with SPI. All of our camps are offered an affordable cost with a sliding scale to make these experiences available to a wide variety of participants. The "Creative Explorations with SPI" camps build on SPI’s facility and location downtown for walking field trips, and recently obtained Earth and Space kits to offer a unique STEAM experience developed by SPI and refined by local teachers. This camp will focus on scientific modeling and exploration with creative options for campers to build their own for models, explorations and inventions to present at the end of camp.
2017 Annual Campaign
In 2016, the YMCA of Mount Vernon was able to grant 235 scholarships totaling just over $41,000. This program made a positive impact on over 450 individuals. The YMCA of Mount Vernon never turns anyone away due to an inability to pay so offering financial assistance to those in need is critical to our cause of strengthening the community. We look forward to helping many Knox County resident in the year 2017 through this program. We would like to thank the Ariel Foundation for their generous ongoing support of this Annual Campaign and for their direct involvement in positively impacting the lives of Knox County residents.
2017 Swimming Lessons
The YMCA of Mount Vernon offers progressive swimming lessons to the Knox County community. Progressive swimming lessons allow current or future swimmers to develop new skills at their own pace, while they become proficient and confident at each new level. The YMCA of Mount Vernon serves the youth of our community in this critical lifesaving skill, and in 2016, we had 286 participants in 5 sessions of swimming lessons.
The YMCA swimming lessons program offers a variety of class groupings geared towards all ages and skill levels. These include: Shrimp and Perch(ages 6 months – 3 years), Pike, Eel, Ray and Starfish(ages 3 – 6), Polliwog, Guppy, Minnow, Fish and Flying Fish(ages 7 – 15). With these funds, the Y is able to hire, and train quality staff as well as purchase the necessary equipment to offer the best possible aquatics program for our community.
Main Street Christmas Light Update
Main Street Mount Vernon has had a presence in Mount Vernon for more than 25 years and has held Main Street accreditation for over 10 years. The mission is that we energize and strengthen an authentic and uniquely local downtown experience. MSMV is proud to be able to sponsor the Christmas lights that beautify our downtown streetscape as well as the Christmas Walk held every year on the Sunday following Thanksgiving. The lights are strung all along beautiful Main Street and all around the square giving downtown a very seasonal, festive atmosphere. MSMV has a very large pine tree on the square, directly in front of City Hall, which is decorated and lit every year for the month of December.
Knox Community Jazz Orchestra Inaugural Season
Beginning in the summer of 2017, the newly created Knox Community Jazz Orchestra opened its inaugural season, filling the air with the sounds of big band jazz and joining an already thriving community arts scene. The group plays a repertoire embracing the jazz tradition in all its richness, from early swing to contemporary pieces. As part of that tradition, their repertoire includes not only music for listening but also for dancing.
In one sense, the Knox Community Jazz Orchestra represents a revival. Community jazz bands in Knox County date back to the Riley Norris Orchestra of the 1960s, the Bob Bechtel Big Band of the 1980s and the Colonial City Big Band that followed it. Like those groups, the KCJO draws on the talents of local musicians while adding to the rich and varied music scene our community already enjoys.
8th Grade Washington, D.C. Class Trip
Mount Vernon Middle School just completed its ninth 8th-grade class trip, but third with the generosity of the Ariel Foundation. 170 students and 18 chaperones went to the Washington, D.C. area on May 10-13. Our students are able to have a well-rounded experience. Places visited include Mount Vernon, Fort McHenry, Arlington National Cemetery as well as memorials and museums.
New this year was an in-class activity researching the military personnel from Knox County who were killed or MIA in Vietnam. Students pieced together their story, and then located the name on the wall.
The experiences students enjoy connect in class curriculum and learning with real life. These experiences cannot happen from behind a computer. The grant has afforded more students the opportunity to attend as it reduces the overall cost.
Ohiolina Music Festival 2017
Exhibiting a deep love of Ohio and North Carolina and all ground in between, Ohiolina aims to celebrate the unique traditions of the region: folk, bluegrass and the local culinary movements. The musical influence of the region-- a portion of Appalachia dotted with mining towns and anchored by two states with robust creative economies—brings us the banjo, fiddle, and the guitar, all traditional Appalachian instruments. The culinary influence of the region brings us local farming—a trend for some, but a long-established way of life for those in the agriculturally-rich regions of North Carolina and Ohio. Two states with similar histories and each with unique contributions to music and culture, North Carolina and Ohio are brought together at Ohiolina, an intentional, creative, and educational celebration of our region’s most beloved traditions.
Columbia Elementary Outdoor Learning Pavilion and Playground Renovation Project
The students at Columbia Elementary will be enjoying a renovated playground and Outdoor Learning Pavilion beginning the 2017-18 School Year. This is a direct result of The Ariel Foundation, The Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County, The Energy Co-Op Foundation, The Columbia Elementary Parent Teacher Organization, The Kaufman Family, and many other individuals that have either donated and/or raised funds. The Outdoor Learning Pavilion specifically will be a product of Mr. Logan Kaufman’s leadership as it will serve as his Eagle Scout Project. We continue to be blessed because, in reality, it has been many years since Columbia Elementary has seen updated playground equipment for both our students and community to use.
Columbia Elementary is not only a neighbor with Ariel-Foundation Park, but we are also a partner in education with The Ariel Foundation. The purpose of our partnership is to improve the lives of our students at Columbia Elementary and to improve our community for many years to come. Together we are accomplishing a place for students to enjoy each other during school hours, families to spend quality time together, and visitors to Ariel-Foundation Park to enjoy a playground where children can play.
We are very grateful and humbled by the support of our community and all of these organizations that have and are supporting these efforts to not only improve the lives of our students at Columbia Elementary but also our community. It comes with great appreciation to serve “The Best and Brightest,” our future community leaders and our next generation.
Fast ForWard Intervention Renewal 2017
The St. Vincent de Paul language and reading intervention program are made possible through the grants the school receives from the Ariel Foundation. This program since its implementation has served more than 50 different students since its inception during the 2014-15 school year. STV utilizes Scientific Learning’s research-based Fast ForWord language and reading intervention programs for students who are at risk for reading difficulties, and for students who have been identified as having a reading or language disability. Students participate in the web-based programs at their level 3 to 5 times each week for at least 30 minutes under the supervision of a reading intervention specialist and Speech and Language Therapist during the regular school day.
Ariel Foundation has supported the purchase of licences, the purchase of technology (tablets and headsets) and currently is supporting the staffing of the program through the grant renewal program. Thanks to their continued support up to 20 students may be enrolled in the program at one time, providing ample opportunities for students who need a “boost” in their language and literacy learning over the course of the school year. Each student proceeds through the program levels at their own pace, with the software adapting to individual learning challenges. Some students have utilized the program over the course of 3 school years, with significant results. When combined with traditional reading instruction, this program has resulted in observable student gains, with some students moving from primer-level reading skills to near grade-level performance. It has also proven to be an effective summer program, allowing students to continue to hone their reading skills even when school is not in session.
BAO Tactical X-Series IIIA Concealable Ballistics Vests
This grant will be used to purchase ten BAO Tactical X-Series IIIA Concealable Ballistics vests that can be shared by our Firemen/Paramedics. They will be worn on the increasing number of runs that include hostile emergency situations. This gives us the ability to reach any potential victims more timely while keeping our first responders safe. Likewise, they can be used when fighting a fire, as there are many solvents, drugs, chemicals, firearms and a host of items that can explode and cause injury or death.
2017 Chautauqua/Lyceum Series
The Chautauqua Series “Spend An Evening With…” living history performances was created by the musical group Elixir, in 2006. On a donation basis, this program provides ongoing educational and entertaining programs to the community that provides a deeper understanding of people and events that have shaped our community, state, nation, and world. "Spend An Evening With..." has been able to have over 150 historical characters recreated and presented as the character themselves, in costume with minimal sets. This program can also offer Lyceums that are audience participation talks relating to events that have shaped history. The opening has music and radio shows that set the mood with music from the era of that evening’s characters using many local musicians and actors. Being donation based allows members of our community and elsewhere an affordable opportunity for all to share and learn.
Weekend Shelter Manager 2017
Lisa Cook is the new Weekend Shelter Manager at The Winter Sanctuary. She has been married for 31 years to her husband, Greg. They have 5 children and one grandchild. Cook is grateful for the opportunity to serve with the guests, volunteers and co-workers at the Winter Sanctuary. With funds from this grant, the Winter Sanctuary is able to keep the shelter open on weekends, especially during the times when there is no other option out of the cold. One of Cook's favorite parts of serving at the Winter Sanctuary are the many relationships that she develops with the guests. She loves forming a bond and working alongside them to help achieve daily goals. Cook is happy to be part of this awesome team.