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Rural schools districts receive $90,000 for physical and mental health needs

June 1, 2022

Program guided by feedback from more than 400 rural educators

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation recently granted $90,000 to improve the health and wellness of students and teachers in 21 rural school districts:

  • Ash Grove R-IV: $5,000 to expand its backpack program;
  • Aurora High School Youth Empowerment Project/Alumni Outreach Center: $5,000 to provide dental screenings for area schools with Children's Smile Center;
  • Cabool R-IV School District: $581 to purchase dental and personal hygiene items for its early childhood special education classroom;
  • Cape Girardeau Public Schools: $5,000 to provide counseling center sessions and vision and dental screenings;
  • Clinton School District: $5,000 to create a calming room in the high school and purchase laptops for nurses who travel between buildings;
  • Crawford County R-II: $5,000 to purchase a vision screener for the school in Cuba;
  • Greenfield R-IV: $4,898 to purchase an automated external defibrillator and other medical devices for the high school;
  • Houston R-I: $3,000 to purchase training and materials for social emotional learning;
  • Laclede County R-I: $2,941 to bring in motivational speaker Chad Thornsberry and purchase his books for teachers in Conway;
  • Maries County R-II: $3,500 to cover therapy copays for teachers and staff of the school in Belle;
  • Monett R-I: $5,000 to purchase a vision screener;
  • Mountain Grove R-III: $5,000 to purchase food for its backpack program;
  • Niangua TLC: $5,000 to purchase a vision screener and audiometer for the school;
  • Oregon-Howell R-III: $5,000 to purchase food, clothing and hygiene items for a sharing closet at the school in Koshkonong;
  • Poplar Bluff R-I: $3,870 to purchase Calm resources for teachers and hire a mental health consultant in the junior high;
  • Sarcoxie R-II: $4,900 to create a teacher wellness center;
  • Seymour R-II: $2,810 to purchase a tower garden, supplies and wellness incentive items for teachers and staff;
  • Skyline R-II: $5,000 to increase the hours for the nurse and counselor at the school in rural Douglas County;
  • Sparta R-III: $5,000 to purchase items for a sensory path and classroom;
  • Waynesville R-VI: $3,500 to cover therapy copays for teachers and staff; and
  • West St. Francois County R-IV: $5,000 to purchase a vision screener for the school in Leadwood.

The grants are a collaboration between the Coover Charitable Foundation and the CFO’s Rural Schools Partnership, which advances rural education through a variety of programs. The CFO administers grantmaking for the Coover Charitable Foundation, which is managed by Commerce Trust Company.

To guide this year’s Coover Regional education program, the CFO conducted a survey of educators in its network of school partners and received more than 400 responses. Among funding priorities, the health and mental health of both students and teachers were identified as areas of greatest need in rural school districts.

“Supporting students’ physical- and mental-health needs, which often aren’t covered by traditional school-funding sources, can make a significant improvement in their ability to learn,” said Jill Reynolds, senior vice president at Commerce Trust Company. “These grants are an example of how philanthropy’s flexible funding can complement other resources for the overall benefit of children and schools.”

Julia Dorothy Coover, a 30-year Commerce employee, founded the Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation in 1992 to honor her husband’s memory. Since then, the Coover Charitable Foundation has awarded more than $7 million in grants to nonprofit agencies and rural schools across the Ozarks.

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