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April 10, 2008


Officials from the University of Maine at Fort Kent today announced that the University has received a $20,000 grant from the Davis Family Foundation in support of the St. John Valley College Community Project; an educational life span-approach to college readiness.  

The Project will provide college and career aspirations and exploration programs to all pre-K through 12th grade-level students from Van Buren to Allagash. Educators and administrators from across the Valley were in attendance at the news conference. 

The Davis Family Grant will allow the Project to expand its existing programs to include Kinder Kollege (grades Pre-K through 4) and Middle School U., (grades 5 through 8). 

UMFK is partnering in the grant with MSAD #24 (Van Buren); MSAD #27 (Fort Kent); MSAD #33 (St. Agatha/Frenchville) and the Madawaska School Department. 

“For 130 years, first as the Madawaska Training School and now as the University of Maine at Fort Kent, this institution has stood as a beacon of knowledge and advancement for the people of the St. John Valley,” said UMFK President, Dr. Richard W. Cost. 

“Today, through the collaborative efforts of our local partners in the College Community Project, and the generous support of the Davis Family Foundation, that beacon shines brighter.  Valley residents of all ages -- from KinderKollege to Senior College -- are able to reach their potential through a holistic approach to education. 

“I applaud the work of Project’s partners in expending its reach, and I thank the trustees of the Davis Family Foundation, for the financial means by which to round out this important community outreach,” Dr. Cost added. 

KinderKollege -- The cornerstone of the “college community program,” KinderKollege is the start of the “education lifespan” at pre-K and Kindergarten screening and registration.  Parents will be given an introduction and assistance in college financing, financial aid, and begin a dialog about aspirations.  Curriculum kits and lesson plans will be developed by UMFK Elementary Education majors, to be used by regional teachers and their students.  The program is the first of its kind in the state of Maine. 

Middle School U. -- The program will be made available to all middle school-aged students in the St. John Valley, and will include college visits hosted by UMFK.  UMFK students and career presenters also will share their experiences in schools, at a University of Maine System consortium summer readiness camp, and through continued 8th to 9th grade transition programming for teachers and students. 

The success of the new programs will be determined by a number of assessment tools. Included among those are: 

  • Continued, and expanded, collection of data on college attendance       
  • An increased number of parents and students 
  • An evaluation of pre-service teachers by the UMFK education faculty       
  • The frequency of use of the KinderKollege “learning kits” will be monitored
  • The number of local college visits by middle school-aged students will increase
  • Early College assessments, already in use, will continue and be improved
  • An integrated 8th and 9th grade-level transition curriculum will be developed in all schools. 

The new programs, to be developed under the grant, will complement existing programs – Early College (grades 9 through 12), Communities Building Communities, St. John Valley College Access Program, and Senior College in preparing students for college, and, indeed, to continue to learn throughout their lifetimes. 

“This program is about breaking down barriers to college for people of all ages,” said Scott Voisine, director of student services at UMFK. “It’s about making college a reality for the people of the St. John Valley,” he added. 

The St. John Valley Early College program provides all high school juniors and seniors with an opportunity to take one college-level course for free at UMFK each semester, for dual (high school and college) credit. The program has been cited by The Mitchell Institute as one of the top four programs throughout the state of Maine.  The Early College program is on the cutting edge of a national trend. 

St. John Valley College Access Program provides a comprehensive, holistic college transition for area residents who always dreamed of college, but never had the opportunity to attend; who always wanted to attend college, but weren’t sure if they could succeed; or for those who have been out of high school for a while, and wondered if they have the skills to keep up. The program provides developmental classes in math, reading and writing, taught by adult education instructors on the UMFK campus. 

Senior College provides intellectually-stimulating learning opportunities and activities for adults ages 50 and older.  Participants learn and explore, make new friends, and challenge their minds in a variety of non-credit classes.  No previous college experience is necessary.

Communities Building Communities engages community members in local secondary education to support a holistic education. It includes an emphasis on character development and 21st century life and work skills. 

The Davis Family Foundation is a public, charitable foundation established by Phyllis C. Davis and H. Halsey Davis of Falmouth, Maine, to support educational, medical and cultural/arts organizations located primarily in Maine.  

The foundation was established following Mr. Davis's retirement as President and Chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc. Their overriding goal for the foundation was simple and straightforward: “to make grants where they will do the most good and where our gifts make a real difference.”  The foundation has provided over $32.8 million in grants since its grant making activities began in 1986 in support of educational organizations, such as colleges, universities, and other educational institutions. 

The SJV College Community Project has supported, and will continue to support, the college and career aspirations of pre-K through grade 12 students, as well as all members of the community at large, across the St. John Valley.