CONTACT:  Sarah Potter
Communications Coordinator


Vol. 46, No. 77
October 18, 2012

Missouri Organizations Receive National Recognition for School Improvement Efforts

Two community organizations in Missouri were named "Together for Tomorrow School Improvement Challenge" winners Monday for their work in helping to support local school improvement efforts. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (BBBSEMO), St. Louis, and the Bright Futures program through Joplin Schools were among 24 organizations nationwide to be named winners by the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the U.S. Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

"Organizations like these that engage the community are vital to the success of children in school," said Missouri Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro. "Congratulations to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri and Bright Futures on leading the way."

Working to improve student achievement is the focus of the Department's plan to become one of the top 10 performing states in education by the year 2020.

Joplin Schools was recognized for its Bright Futures program that partners businesses, faith-based organizations, human services agencies and parent groups with the school district to help meet students’ basic needs quickly and efficiently so that students can focus on achievement and success.

“We are incredibly excited about this award,” noted Kim Vann, Joplin Schools Community Development Director. “It is an honor to be recognized with so many other great schools and organizations doing such amazing work to help children succeed. This type of recognition lets us know that Bright Futures is not only changing students’ lives, but also inspiring others to get involved in their schools and the outcomes for their students. Strong schools and strong communities don’t happen without each other.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri's ABCToday! program joins schools, families and communities through an integrated team approach and targeted interventions to ensure that students Attend school, Behave while there and experience Classroom success in reading and math. The program partners with three public school districts in St. Louis: St. Louis Public School District, Cape Girardeau School District and Normandy School District, and serves over 1,300 "Littles".

“It’s an honor for us to be recognized by the White House and U.S. Department of Education for our work,” said BBBSEMO President/CEO Becky James-Hatter. “We celebrate this honor with all of our key partners – the schools, teachers, parents, Littles, Bigs, Board of Directors, staff, donors and friends, who are right there with us, working every day to help boost our children’s ABCs.”

Together for Tomorrow is a new initiative launched this year to spotlight existing and spur new community engagement in turning around persistently low-performing schools. More information about the Together for Tomorrow School Improvement Challenge can be found at