Education is the key to brighter tomorrows. Recognizing its importance, The Ariel Foundation has provided many different education-related grants to community partners. For example, a new activity center for youth was constructed by Knox County 4-H. The new facility adjoins the Knox County Fairgrounds and provides three times the amount of space for club meetings, demonstrations, judging events and county-wide training, as compared with the former facility.
Development of early literacy skills is important in preparing a child to go to school and succeed in life. Since 2010, The Ariel Foundation has provided annual grant support to United Way of Knox County for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library free book program for local children under the age of five.
Since June of 2010, Knox County Children have received 195,566 free age-appropriate books.
Also, in support of education, is an ongoing partnership with Mount Vernon City Schools and St. Vincent de Paul School for Fast ForWord programs. Fast ForWord is an online language and reading intervention, intended to help struggling readers develop and strengthen the cognitive skills necessary for successful reading. The program is designed to help struggling readers by directly and intensively targeting what’s holding them back. The program begins by improving the underlying cognitive skills associated with reading struggles and then delivers personalized, intensive practice across a wide range of language and reading tasks, helping learners make a rapid improvement that continues long after they are finished with the program.
The Stephen W. Nease Center, at 104 S. Main Street, was recently renovated by Mount Vernon Nazarene University. What was once the JC Penney building in downtown Mount Vernon, is now the new home of the MVNU Engineering Department. A portion of the space houses Knox Labs, a community makerspace. ABET accredited engineering classes, and lab spaces are offered in the 10,824 Square foot facility.