Studer Community Institute

PNJ story captures spirit behind Studers’ $50,000 challenge

Students raise their hand in La’Tris Sykes kindergarten class at Lincoln Park Elementary School (Michael Spooneybarger/ Studer Community Institute)

Thomas St. Myer has a great page-one story in Tuesday morning’s Pensacola News Journal about Quint and Rishy Studer’s pledge of $50,000 for the best ideas to improve early learning in Escambia County.

The Studers are offering $25,000 for the best idea submitted by an employee of the Escambia County School District, and $25,000 for the best idea submitted by someone who isn’t an employee of the district.

FL_PNJ 1-19-2016I especially like the quote St. Myer got from Escambia County School District Superintendent Malcolm Thomas:

“People are understanding a school district can’t do it alone, teachers can’t do it alone,” said Thomas. “It takes an entire community joining hands. I hope somebody comes up with a great idea. I promise you I’m never looking to turn away a great idea.”

You can read the story here.

More details about the $50,000 in awards will be released soon. To sign up for information as it is released, please CLICK HERE.

Below is a letter from the Studer’s explaining their motivation for the Be the Bulb $50,000 Challenge:

TO:            Escambia County
FROM:      Quint and Rishy Studer
RE:           Kindergarten readiness

 Each year in Escambia County about 1,000 children enter kindergarten unprepared. One out of three children show up behind from day one.

Rishy and I believe that every parent wants his or her child to be ready for kindergarten. When a child is not ready, the dedicated teachers and support personnel at Escambia County schools have to spend extra time to help him or her catch up. Sadly, many never will. It means that the other two-thirds of the students who were ready for kindergarten will miss some instruction due to the time spent with the children who were not ready. Our children and their teachers deserve better.

Quint Rishy Studer-5When fewer children are ready for kindergarten, everyone pays the price. It means lower graduation rates, more teacher turnover, more crime, lower wages, less money to reinvest, and Escambia County remains one of the poorest counties in Florida. We believe that as a community there is a commitment to improving kindergarten readiness. The community’s values are too strong not to. So how?

Only 66 percent of students in the Escambia County School District show up for their first day of class kindergarten ready. Of the 67 counties in the state, Escambia ranks in the bottom quartile at 51. We’re soliciting ideas that will help move Escambia into the top quartile of counties whose students show up kindergarten ready. We’re calling it the “Be the Bulb Challenge.”

We know it’s not easy or we would not be in the current situation. Who better, we believe, to provide the ideas on how to improve kindergarten readiness than those who live in Escambia and care deeply about children and their future? We all have a vested interest in improving the outcome.

The key is there must be a change.

We are so sure there are solutions to this problem, we have asked the Studer Community Institute to coordinate a campaign that will provide $50,000 in awards for the best proposals to improve Escambia County’s kindergarten readiness rate.

Research has made it apparent that if we don’t fix this issue, it will cost the area dearly in lower quality of life, increased crime, fewer jobs and lower wages. Plus, we lose passionate teachers who get worn out.

You don’t need to be able to implement the idea. We know that ideas often cannot be executed by those with the ideas due to a number of issues. However, we do want ideas that can be put into action by someone.

The $50,000 in awards are for:

$25,000 for the best idea to improve kindergarten readiness submitted by an individual or group of people employed by the Escambia County School District.

$25,000 for the best idea to improve kindergarten readiness submitted by an individual, nonprofit or other groups of people who are not employed by the Escambia County School District.

More details about the $50,000 in awards will be released soon.

Sign up for information

The time is now to make a difference in the lives of thousands. If not us — the community — then whom?

Quint and Rishy Studer