PONTOTOC – Eight school districts in Lee, Union and Pontotoc counties are upgrading with $1 million in grant money from Toyota.
The first Toyota Wellspring Education Fund grants will add computers and other technology to classrooms, build the technology backbone in some districts and expand access to pre-kindergarten and tutoring programs in others.
“We want to do what we can to enhance the opportunities,” said Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi Vice President Doug Formby. The grants will benefit 26,000 public students in the three counties that banded together to create the Blue Springs site where Toyota located.
Toyota has delivered $20 million of the $50 million it pledged over 10 years to build an endowment overseen by CREATE Foundation. For the first three years, CREATE used $1 million annually to offer higher-caliber professional development opportunities to school leaders and educators, conduct curriculum audits and lay the foundations for the Wellspring School for Professional Futures.
“It’s an indication of their belief in how important education is to this area,” said Mike Clayborne, CREATE president.
The distribution of the grant money was based on school district population and district needs. The grants went to:
• Pontotoc City: $120,000 to purchase iPads for all elementary and high school classes as well as smart board response devices.
• Pontotoc County: $162,000 to update computers and add computer labs and mobile carts for classrooms.
• Union County: $143,000 to upgrade network infrastructure, increasing speed and allowing students and teachers to use wireless devices on all campuses.
• New Albany: $113,000 for one-to-one computer initiative for third- through fifth-grade students.
• Baldwyn: $24,000 to upgrade security and infrastructure to allow students to safely integrate their own devices with those of the schools.
• Lee County: $204,000 to upgrade technology and infrastructure and supplement devices on all 14 campuses.
• Nettleton: $38,000 for a literary interventionist to enhance its tutoring program and fund smart boards and response devices at its high school.
• Tupelo: $203,000 for a 13th classroom at the Early Childhood Education Center, expanding a tutoring program in grades three through sixth and supplementing course fees for Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment classes for high school students.