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Elkhart Community Schools receive multi-million dollar grant

Photo courtesy of Elkhart Community Schools

The Elkhart Community School district has been awarded the U.S Department of Education Full-Service Community Grant, providing the district $1.9 million per year over the course of five years.

By the end of year five, the ECS and Concord schools will have received 9.5 million dollars from the grant.

The Full-Service Community Grant will provide funding for schools to enhance a normal school day. It will offer after school programs, encourage family outreach and provide assistance in areas of need like financial literacy and nutrition.
ECS Superintendent, Dr. Steve Thalheimer said the schools will use this year’s money to hire site coordinators for each school — increasing communication between the families and the schools.

“It might look slightly different for each of the different schools based on what each of those communities are saying that they're needing,” he said.

The idea for site coordinators came from surveys from families and a study done by the city of Elkhart on the Southside

Thalheimer attended the different meetings and looked at the evidence and what people wanted.

The grant will help six schools in the district — Mary Beck Elementary, Mary Daly Elementary, Monger Elementary, Beardsley Elementary. Roosevelt STEAM Academy, Pierre Moran Middle School. Two Concord Community Schools — SouthSide Elementary and West Side Elementary will also benefit from the grant.

ECS received the grant with the help of Elkhart Memorial graduate Derek Miller.

According to Thalheimer, Miller had written grants like the Full-Service Community Grant in Illinois. He told Thalheimer that he would be interested in supporting Elkhart and that ECS had good chances at securing funding.

Thalheimer wrote the grant two years ago — right before federal dollars to support community schools through the pandemic came out. The school did not receive the grant because of this. He reapplied for the grant in the fall, with the help of Concord schools. They were notified of the grant acceptance at the beginning of the 2023 school year.

Thalheimer said he was humbled by the grant acceptance and was grateful for the opportunity to work with Concord schools.

“We really see this as a way to have somebody within the school embedded in the community,” he said. “Finding out what people's needs are and what we can do to support parents in their endeavors to help their students reach their full potential.”

ECS was one of 42 schools in the country to receive the grant. It was also one of three agencies in the state to receive the award, along with Vanderburgh School Corporation and Marian University.

According to the U.S Department of Education, this year’s grant competition received the largest number of applications in the history of the program.

Rachel Schnelle is a Reporter/Assignment editor for WVPE. She can be reached at
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