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CFCC joins YSB in helping students

November 26, 2008
The Crawford County Youth Service Bureau was in need of additional computers to help with the education of students at the facility. The Community Foundation of Crawford County just happened to have a few. Working together, the two agencies were able to meet the needs of the students in a cost-effective way.

"We had bought 10 new laptops for an on-the-road education training program," Bonita Coots, president and CEO of the CFCC, said. "That program eventually ended due to lack of interest, so we had 10 computers on hand. Each of them had up-to-date software. I knew a time would come when they would be needed."

Kandi Shafer, left, and Rebecca Kenley share a laugh while working on new laptop computers at the Crawford County Youth Service Bureau in Marengo. The computers and the PLATO programs used by students on the computers were funded by the Community Foundation of Crawford County. (Photo by Lee Cable)
And, indeed, the time came. The YSB had been needing more computers for a while, and applied for a grant from the CFCC to buy them. They also needed to buy licenses for a program called PLATO for each of the computers.

The amount of the grant, which included both computers and licenses, was too large, so Coots came up with a plan.

"The amount of the grant exceeded our abilities," Coots said. "But I told them to ask for what they needed, and we'd see what could be worked out."

First, Coots and Fran Wheeler, assistant director of the YSB, and Sharon Schultz, a teacher there, determined that the laptops in storage at the CFCC would serve the needs of the YSB.

"The laptops offered more flexibility for our students," Schultz said. "Any of our students who are homebound can do work at home. And with the PLATO programs, they are a real blessing. All of our students can now get online at once. Before, we could have only four students working on English and four on history, because that's all the license we had."

"In this case, we already had the computers," Coots said. " So, we were able to supply the computers, then use their grant to buy the needed licenses that were needed. There was some funds left over from the grant, so we decided to give them a new laser printer, which was badly needed, also. We are proud to be able to provide help to that kind of organization. It's one of the best, yet least known agencies in the county. It used to be a place where they would send students as a last resort — but not now. They help a variety of students. Some students don't respond to regular school, yet are able to achieve real goals at YSB."

The entire staff at the YSB were trained on the use of the PLATO programs, which are now used extensively at the school.

"Once the students finish an assignment, they can take a test, and the program will calculate the score," Wheeler said. "The teacher can them monitor the test results, which cuts down on manual grading. That gives her time to work more one-on-one with the kids. We may get students in here in the middle of a semester. The PLATO program shows us where they are academically. It's a really good tool."

The YSB also offers programs such as "Families in Transition" for kids who are effected by the divorce of parents. Some are court ordered to participate. The YSB also offers many awareness programs to help with issues like date rape, sexual assault, and others.

"A lot of organizations work to raise money they need," Coots said, "but the YSB kids actually work to raise money for other causes. They are involved in a lot of community service projects. Sometimes, those who have the least appreciate the most."

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