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2012 Grant Winners Announced

Thursday, April 26, the Morton Community Foundation hosted the Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event at Bertha Frank Performing Arts Center.  The event was used as the platform for announcing their annual grant recipients.  Announcements were made of recipients of another $36,316 in grants.

On Monday night, April 30, the Foundation announced 6 recipients of another $7,000 in scholarships to Morton High School Seniors toward their college expenses.  These scholarship funds are held at the Morton Community Foundation, and are administered through the Morton High School counseling office.  An additional $1,000 scholarship winner will be announced later in the year, for a WIU student through the Garrett W. Mooberry Memorial Scholarship.  Total 2012 Scholarships - $8,000.

This brings the Morton Community Foundation’s 2012 total of grant and scholarship awards to over $44,000… once again, the most ever granted in the Foundation’s history.  The cumulative total of grants and scholarships given since 2003, the Foundation’s first year of grantmaking is nearly $233,000.

This year, the Foundation received 28 grant applications, 9 were first-time applicants.  This year’s grant requests totaled over $85,000.   The grant review committee was made up of representatives from:  School District 709, Village of Morton, Morton Township, Morton Park District, Morton Library, Morton Chamber of Commerce, two at-large community representatives, two students from Morton High School, and three Morton Community Foundation representatives.  It was this committee that had the difficult job of prioritizing all the requests and determining which would be funded, and to what extent…  a difficult task, as all of the requests were worthwhile, even if they don’t prioritize as highly as another.

Lots of compliments were received for the delicious Hors d' oeuvres, provided by Morton Chamber member, Nelson's Catering, Springfield, IL.

Following is a list of the funded 2012 grants:

  • $2,500 – Morton Chamber of Commerce submitted by Jennifer Daley, Executive Director toward the cost of building the next new stone entryway sign.  This brings our total of grants for entryway signs over the past few years to $10,000.  This project impacts all of us by creating a warm welcome to our community and a very nice first impression of Morton.  We’re proud to continue our participation in this ongoing project, and look forward to the day when the new stone signs at all entrances to Morton have been installed.
  • $899 – Jefferson Elementary School submitted by Susan Grzanich, Principal and Ken Mallinson, PTO President – toward the purchase of an LCD Video Projector that will be used not only throughout the year for various classroom presentations and school assemblies, but also for Jefferson’s family movie night events which impact 500 parents and students annually.  This projector is the type that makes images visible in large rooms with some natural light… necessary for a large gymnasium projection.
  • $1,200 – Morton Youth Baseball Association submitted by Brock Woods, Chairperson of Fundraising for MYBA – toward the rebuilding of the press box on Bronco Field out at Westwood Park.  MYBA serves over 500 Morton area children and uses these press boxes nightly for in-house and travel games as well as for tournaments. 
  • $475 – B.A.C.E. submitted by Gail Westbrook, Executive Director – toward a renovation project that includes necessary improvements in the facility’s kitchen and restrooms.  B.A.C.E. provides much needed before and after school activities to students from Jefferson, Lettie Brown, Lincoln, and Grundy elementary schools, including tutoring, music, sports, crafts, and aerobic workouts (skating and tennis).  This is all done in a supervised atmosphere that focuses on the inherent worth of each individual.  B.A.C.E. never turns away children due to their family’s inability to pay. To that end, they have issued over $435,000 in scholarships to families in need.  They believe in impacting the entire family and have set up food and clothing pantries for families in Morton and Groveland to fulfill the material needs that arise.
  • $841 – The Center for Prevention of Abuse submitted by Olga Becker, Director of Administration – toward the purchase of a large enclosed and cushioned activity center for toddlers. The toddler activity center is structured to be used by six to eight toddlers simultaneously, creating a stimulating environment in an object-free, safe space. This grant will help The Center make more efficient use of space by separating the play/therapy areas into sections that are age-appropriate, easier to manage, and more engaging to the children served by The Center.  According to Morton Police Chief, Craig Hilliard, “The Center for Prevention of Abuse is invaluable to the Morton community because they provide support to local families and individuals who are victims of elder abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.”
  • $2,000 – Lincoln elementary School PTO submitted by Jody Myers, PTO Grant Committee Chairperson – toward the purchase of iPads to be used in classrooms.  Lincoln School houses the early childhood program, the Primary and Intermediate Special Education Programs, and a pilot second grade program with accelerated classes, and school officials see beyond a doubt that each child learns differently.  These iPads give the teachers the opportunity to immediately tailor lessons to individual students and groups.  The Lincoln PTO has a goal of providing 5 iPads permanently located in each of 19 classrooms, plus a cart of 30 tablets that would enable an entire class to use them together.  By the end of the 2014/2015 school year, they hope to have the entire 125 iPads available for use.  This Morton Community Foundation grant will be used toward the purchase of 5 iPad tablets.
  • $1,100 – Morton Public Library submitted by Janice Sherman, Director – toward the purchase of 7 “Playaway View” portable video devices & travel DVDs for preschool and elementary school children. “Playaway Views” make it possible for children to combine portable entertainment with learning.  The library has a core View collection that has proven to be very popular and most titles are checked out as soon as they are returned.  This grant will allow the library to supplement the collection and to publicize this unique device that is not available in the consumer marketplace.
  • $750 – MHS Cross Country Team submitted by Joel Zehr, Head Coach – toward the purchase of new warm-ups for the team members which would be used by the runners during the fall cross country season and then returned to be used again in subsequent seasons. As each cross-country season progresses, inclement weather is inevitably encountered.  These new warm-ups will not only help instill a sense of pride in the runners who represent Morton high school, but will also protect them from the elements as they prepare for competitions. Currently, warm-ups are shared with the high school track team and are often in poor condition or are oversized for the build of the typical cross country runner.  These garments would be expected to last more than ten seasons and would be used by fifty or more young men and women each season.
  • $2,400 – Bethel Lutheran School submitted by John Jacob, Principal; and Alan Hallberg, Business Manager – toward the purchase of 2 new computer servers to replace the existing 8-10 year old equipment.  This project will allow Bethel to serve its 360 students, from various church backgrounds, with an improved and expanded educational experience as well as provide enhanced smart board and internet resources.  Currently school servers are providing very slow internet service, making the use of Smartboards difficult.  Computer training is also slowed down due to the drain all of the operating computers put on the server.
  • $2,313 – Lettie Brown Elementary School submitted by Lee Hoffman, Principal – toward the purchase of Aegom science curriculum notebooks that are compatible with current SMART Board technology in kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms throughout District 709. Last year, through a Morton Community Foundation grant, the Morton School District was able to purchase Aegom notebooks for language arts and Math. Due to the cost, the district was unable to purchase the science notebooks. However, Aegom agreed to give the district access to the science notebooks for one year at no cost. Teachers have utilized this beneficial product for the past school year and have seen the impact it has made on student achievement, as indicated by one sixth grade teacher, “The animations really make the material come alive for the kids.”
  • $3,000 – Morton Tourism Association submitted by Susan Pyles, Director – toward the purchase of 15 commercial grade, portable, self-standing, wind-resistant, shade umbrellas to be used by various groups and organizations for events all over our community.  These umbrellas will be offered to groups to be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.  There are 15 groups in Morton who organize events that have the potential to provide shade for many of the over 75,000 spectators served each year.  This grant will allow the purchase of 8 of these umbrellas, and the Morton Community Foundation logo will be applied to each umbrella to show our support of the project.
  • $500 – Central IL Youth Symphony submitted by Janice Lukich & Charles Schlenker, Board Members – toward the purchase of a laptop computer to be used for presentations to schools, community groups, professional music associations, and at CIYS orientations and other parent meetings, events, and fundraisers. The laptop would also be used throughout the year to facilitate cataloguing and key access to their re-usable music library. CIYS owns cataloguing software, but at this time, managing their music library is inefficient and incomplete because their office desktop computer is remote from the library. A portable laptop will allow CIYS to complete the cataloguing process and result in higher re-usage of the musical scores they own (which in turn reduces the need for purchasing new music).
  • $450 – First Presbyterian Church – Community Garden submitted by Michael Johnson, Treasurer – toward the purchase of fencing materials, plants, and seeds for the Community Garden.  A portion of the garden plot is tended by church members to provide fresh vegetables to those in need. Church members provide produce to the food pantry at We Care and to Trinity Church’s Community Harvest Food Pantry. This year's garden will be expanded again and will cover 4200 square feet (over twice its original size).  The fencing materials are expected to last for a number of years.
  • $2,400 – Blessed Sacrament School submitted by Mike Birdoes, Principal – toward the purchase of 8 sets of SMART Board audio speakers. The SMART Board audio equipment purchased with this grant will improve the educational experience for students and teachers at the Blessed Sacrament school.  For example, a history lesson on the Civil War can be enhanced with a video clip reenacting Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. A science lesson can be enriched by showing a video clip of an actual experiment taking place. A classroom of students in Morton could video conference with a classroom of students of the same age in China.
  • $3,928 – Community Harvest Food Pantry submitted by Stephanie Bertelson, Director – toward the purchase of a warehouse entryway air curtain and 2 collapsible wire storage containers.  The air curtain will allow people with carts of pantry items to pass in and out of the warehouse, while preventing wind, hot or cold air, dust, fumes, odors and insects from entering the food storage area.  The wire storage containers will allow storage and easy access of products while reducing space requirements by folding flat for storage.
  • $4,290 – District 709 Broadcasting Department submitted by Bill Schock, Coordinator of Electronic Communication and Security – to purchase a Panasonic solid state P2 recording deck. The school district provides a variety of programming on Channel 20 of the local Comcast cable network, including music & sporting events, interviews, information on current district initiatives, tonight’s event, etc. The new recording deck will be used for recording sporting & music events throughout the district.  Programs are currently recorded onto digital videotape.  With the purchase of a new deck, programs can be recorded onto solid-state P2 cards providing superior quality and a much more efficient postproduction workflow.  This project impacts an extremely large portion of Morton area residents.
  • $2,400 – Morton 709 Special Education submitted by Dana Ashby, Special Ed Director – toward the purchase of iPads to address the learning and communication needs of students throughout the district.  District 709 is committed to providing an appropriate education for all students and to finding instructional methods that allow each student to perform at their best capable level. According to recent data, Morton has 14% of its student population with an identified eligibility for special education services.  Two percent of our student population has eligibilities in autism or cognitive disability and nearly four percent of our students have identified speech and language needs.  There are numerous iPad applications that could be used to address the learning needs of these students in order to help them achieve and to communicate.
  • $1,350 – Morton Blaze Soccer Club submitted by David Beebe, Board member – toward the construction costs of a new pedestrian bridge across the ravine, on the eastern side of the north fields at McClallen Park.  Morton Blaze Soccer Club is one of Morton’s largest youth organizations, impacting thousands of youth and their families as well as bringing thousands of tourism dollars into Morton during league play and 2 large tournaments each year.  The bridge will provide safety for players at both games and practices, and will provide convenience, safety, and enjoyment for players and family members attending games.  This second bridge will be wider and will enable transportation of equipment without getting stuck in mud during the rainy seasons.
  • $1,500 – Morton Junior High School submitted by Chris Carter, Assistant Principal – toward the purchase of a new “Cherry and Gray”, permanently and inherently flame retardant stage curtain.  One of the benefits of buying a “permanently and inherently flame retardant” curtain is that it will not need to be cleaned and re-flame proofed every three years.  This will save the school district over $2000 every three years.  Morton Junior High School is in the final phase of a four year long project of changing school colors from green and white to cherry and gray.  New signage outside and inside have been fabricated, the gymnasium walls and floor have new paint, and athletic uniforms have been replaced.  One of the last remaining pieces of décor that is in need of replacing is the stage curtain.  The current curtain is green in color and is also showing its age with a couple of tears that have been temporarily fixed.
  • $550 – Morton Junior High School submitted by Chris Carter, Assistant Principal – toward the purchase of new, vinyl backstop padding clad in school colors and logo.  Signage would also be added to the backstop fence indicating “Home of the Potters” and designating “Potters” and “Guests” dugouts. In 2009, the Morton Junior High softball program moved its home games from a converted baseball field at Westwood Park, to its current location directly behind MJHS.  It is now home to both the MJHS softball program and the MHS freshmen and sophomore teams.  In the last three years, dugouts were constructed, a scoreboard added, and a removable fence installed to make the field game-ready.  This new backstop padding and signage are the next step towards making this field a source of school and community pride through the Morton Softball Program.
  • $450 – Camp Big Sky submitted by Brad Guidi, Executive Director – toward the construction materials needed for “Accessible” floating dock sections, providing safe access to prime fishing locations, and to the study of aquatic wildlife for more visitors.  Camp Big Sky, located near Farmington, IL, hosts approximately 200 Morton area residents each year through Apostolic Christian Timber Ridge and their related group homes, TCRC Highland Center in Morton, and the Morton Park District through the Heart of Illinois Special Recreation Association.  These funds will supplement a $1,700 grant from the Community Foundation of Central IL, and construction labor will be provided by volunteers from Bradley University’s Pi Kappa Phi service fraternity.
  • $600 – Young Life/WyldLife, Morton submitted by Scott Seynemeier, Area Director – toward the purchase of an LED video projector to be used to show movies, videos, Bible research tools, and to project Powerpoint presentations to large groups of students at Young Life and WyldLife Club meetings here in Morton.  Young Life provides a non-denominational ministry outreach to Middle School and High School students in Morton, and has been reaching out to kids in Central IL for over 40 years.  They provide a safe place to learn about Christ, share life experiences, grow in their faith, and navigate the difficult teenage years.
  • $420 – TCRC submitted by Mark Bourland, Senior VP of Business Operations – toward the purchase of Boardmaker software & accessories, and materials on Autism. The software would allow Casemanagers to develop communication “boards” that will prove invaluable in clients being able to better communicate their needs and wants with others.   TCRC provides day-training and senior services for 122 individuals with developmental disabilities at its Highland Street Center in Morton.

The Morton Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization serving Morton area residents. The Foundation holds over 25 different funds that benefit different organizations and fields of interest.  Rather than dividing charitable dollars and writing a number of checks to several non-profits, donors can make a single gift to the Morton Community Foundation.  By consolidating charitable dollars a donor’s gift can have a major impact, both for immediate needs and for the future.

For more information about the Morton Community Foundation, call 309-291-0434 or visit

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