Elkhart students need some "spark development."
Hayley Boling, co-founder of the newly formed Elkhart Education Foundation, and about 40 other volunteers want to help kids find their spark — something that will get them engaged at school.
It could be art, sports or a club. The philosophy is that kids spend most of their time at school, so they might as well find something they love to do there.
"I want people to think back to their high school days, their grade school days, and ask themselves: 'What got you out of bed in the morning?'" Boling said.
There's plenty of ways for kids to get involved at school, she said, but a barrier for some Elkhart students is money. That's where the education foundation comes in.
Foundation volunteers hope to pay for students' extracurricular activities.
This summer, they hope to provide money specifically for instruments Elkhart students need for music camps. They also want to organize trips to college campuses and financial aid help for students.
"This is going to provide opportunities for kids who fall through the cracks," Boling said.
The foundation is still in the start-up stage. It has a board of directors and four committees, which Boling said anyone can join. Now, the group is working on raising awareness and funds.
Boling said she'd eventually like to raise $1 million each year for Elkhart students. This first year, she expects to hit somewhere between $150,000 and $250,000.
Everyone involved in the foundation is a volunteer, so any money donated goes directly to students, Boling said. And she stressed that no donation is too small.
By funding opportunities that already exist for students, Boling thinks the foundation can raise graduation rates and help students become productive members of society.
"I believe this is going to be a solution to many of the problems we face in our school systems," she said.
The foundation is planning two fundraising events for this spring and summer.