Both the towns of Gillespie and Benld recently welcomed representatives of The Partnership for Educational Excellence at routine board meetings to mark the education foundation’s 25th anniversary.
Nanci Grandone, the founder and first president of The Partnership for Educational Excellence, and John Fassero, Jr., a founding member and current president, received proclamations of congratulations from both Mayor John Hicks of Gillespie and Jim Kelly of Benld.
In turn, Fassero thanked the villages for their past financial and in-kind support during 25 years of fund raisers.
Since its founding, Fassero said, the Partnership has distributed nearly $600,000 in the form of classroom mini-grants and $215,500 as 393 scholarships to graduating Gillespie High School seniors. All funds administered by the 501(c)3 non-profit organization come from donations, bequests and memorials.
“We’ve worked very hard over the years to be transparent and good stewards of that money. It’s not our money,” Fassero noted. “It’s other peoples’ money. We are the funnel that funnels other peoples’ money to the school district.”
For the volunteer organization’s 25th anniversary, the group has set a goal of raising $25,000 in new donations, Fassero said, to support an increase in the size of its scholarships from $500 to $1,000. This increase will come in the form of a dollar-for-dollar match to established memorial scholarships.
“It’s still a modest scholarship at $1,000, but for many students, it is the only scholarship available to them,” he said. “Most years we provide scholarships for up to 25 percent of the graduating class and we are very proud of that. We hope to maintain that percentage, but we will need help to meet that goal.”
Fassero thanked the councils, stating, “Your support has added both to our resources and credibility. It’s clear that we share the philosophy that ‘Only on the foundation of education can our children build productive lives and a stable society.’”
Both mayors stated in their proclamations that the village officials “applaud The Partnership’s commitment to educational excellence and do hereby encourage residents and alumni, civic and business leaders in CUSD7 to continue their generous support of the children of CUSD7, our most valuable asset.”