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 244,943 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.
Renovations at The Stephen W. Nease Center, at 104 S. Main Street, were completed by the Mount Vernon Nazarene University in 2019. What was once the JC Penney building in downtown Mount Vernon, is now the new home of the MVNU Engineering Department. ABET accredited engineering classes, and lab spaces are offered in the 10,824 Square foot facility.
Since 2014 the Ariel Foundation has provided unique opportunities for Mount Vernon City School students over the years, greatly reducing the cost of the annual Washington, D.C. class trip for students and their families.
The annual field trip brings learning alive and inspires students through learning more about history. The grant provides transportation and tickets to George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Virginia, and support for visiting several national landmarks and museums such as the National Archives, Library of Congress, Unites States Capitol, the White House and Smithsonian Museums.
Knox Technical Center provides postsecondary career training for those whose goal is to pursue a new career or advance their skills in their chosen profession. Students are prepared to pass an industry-recognized certification/license as well as work in the related field of study. KTC, accredited by the Council on Occupational Education, is an Ohio Technical Center and has high completion, placement, and certification/licensure rates.
These training programs are one year or less in length and are provided locally so there is limited travel time for the student who may need to continue to work while going to school. People with these skills provide a viable workforce for our local community. Program success will help employers as well as possible employers who are looking for a future home in Knox County. The Ariel Foundation has supported this worthwhile community program since 2017.
The Main Library, last renovated in 1989, required capital improvements. One of the Main Library’s features is its natural light, which patrons enjoy in public spaces on the main floor, in the solarium, and on the children’s floor. After 34 years, the windows providing this light were in need of replacement. The library building’s age, one-of-a-kind design features, and the location of the windows themselves complicated this project. Seeking to maintain the building’s overall design, this organization needed to create custom, wood-laminate windows for the first-floor stairwell, second floor stairwell, and children’s floor.
Grant funds for the window replacement portion of this project helped to assist in maintaining a bright, welcoming environment for Library patrons and maintaining the structural integrity of the Main Library for many years to come.