Moving MO Forward

First lady Parson approves over $1K in grant projects at Mark Twain ‚Äč
Posted on 12/13/2022
Shawn Politte of Mark Twain School helps distribute blankets at the Bread Shed.

Mark Twain School has been awarded $1,100 for its Jobs for America’s Graduates program in a string of new grant initiatives under Missouri first lady Teresa Parson’s Moving Missouri Forward Foundation.

Last month, JAG-Poplar Bluff received $500 through Parson’s inaugural Entrepreneur/Philanthropic Challenge; along with two $300 Community Project Funding grants for middle school students and high schoolers, respectively.

“She is a huge supporter of the program,” said JAG specialist Darla Nunn of Mark Twain. “I am very excited about this opportunity for our students.”

The week following Parson’s visit to Mark Twain in October during a tour of JAG programs, over which she serves as co-chair with Gov. Mike Parson, grant proposals were solicited via the first lady’s office. Nunn said the students came up with the ideas for the submissions.

Earlier this month, students went shopping for fleece materials to make blankets for children at the Bread Shed food ministry. Family and consumer sciences teacher Paula Colvin of the High School, who serves as Southeast Missouri chapter coordinator over Project Linus, provided Nunn the no-sew pattern.

Students began distributing the homemade blankets, along with some prefabricated, during free diaper day on Thursday, Dec. 8, at the North D Street location. Bread Shed Director Chris Kellums contributed an additional $200 toward the cause in donated Walmart gift cards because, he stated: “There are families in need. It’s a good thing. I’m thankful for these kids.”

In the spring, Mark Twain students plan to collaborate with the Haven House women’s shelter in establishing a raised community garden for residents at a mutual location to be determined, according to Nunn. A total of $6,000 was awarded to JAG schools throughout the state, according to Teresa Parson’s chief of staff Jill Fansler, who said the goal was to “help students understand the importance of giving back to their communities.”

The final proposal was for students to use a recently acquired Cricut to create merchandise for fundraising such as clothing and stickers using vinyl in the smart cutting machine, Nunn explained. Teresa Parson allocated $12,000 for the initiative in order to “help students understand how to start and operate a sustainable small business,” Fansler continued.

“We’re proud of all you accomplish through JAG,” she wrote in the award letter. “Keep up the good work.”

The Moving Missouri Forward Foundation was formed this year, according to Fansler. In addition to supporting JAG-Missouri, a school-based career exploration program, the nonprofit is designed to help children with special needs as well as finance Teresa Parson’s CommUNITY Service Challenge, according to its website. “All her initiatives deal with helping children,” Fansler explained of the first lady.

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Cutline: Shawn Politte of Mark Twain School helps distribute blankets to families with young children on Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Bread Shed. (Photo credit: Bread Shed volunteer Malissa Timbush)

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