Education Foundation/Sarasota County Schools Texcellence program reaches new milestone
Texcellence computer number 4,500 goes to Alta Vista 5th grader Lance Anspach (front, with his niece Aliyonna Booker, age two), with (l to r) Texcellence coordinator Alina Klein, Lance’s mom Kristine Anspach, his aunt Amanda Davis, Education Foundation board member and donor Jason Swift, and Vitil Solutions’ Dale Ott. Jon F. Swift, Inc. and Vitil have been part of Texcellence since 2007.
Sarasota, Florida – June 8, 2011 – When his mom Kristine asked what all the excitement was about, Lance Anspach signed to her that he wasn’t just getting a computer last night. Their family was also in the spotlight as the 4,500th in Sarasota County to benefit from the Texcellence Computer Donation Program.
One of over 70 students of all ages who arrived with their families at Riverview High School on June 7, the Alta Vista Elementary student and his mother were there to learn how to attach a keyboard to a CPU, use some cool educational software, and take home Lance’s very own computer.
After welcoming the crowd, Texcellence coordinator Alina Klein announced that the Anspachs would receive computer number 4,500, surging past the program’s goal for the school year. At the end of the evening’s distribution, more than 4,506 families had received refurbished home computers, training, and technical support since Texcellence was launched in 2007.
Some students interpreted for parents and showed off their computer skills while Texcellence trainers led two-hour workshops in English and Spanish. All left with clean desktop computers and monitors, flash drives, and a phone number for tech support. Many signed up for a subsidized twelve-month Internet subscription, with security and parental controls, for a single $40 set-up charge.
Lance, who won an essay contest at school this year, is delighted he’ll finally have a computer at home when he starts 5th grade in August. “Now I’ll be able to win even more,” he said. During the evening’s workshop, the ten year old assisted the trainer and helped grownups who were not so familiar with the technology.
Texcellence is produced by the Education Foundation Foundation of Sarasota County in collaboration with Sarasota County Schools. The program costs about $200,000 each year to operate, in addition to donations of equipment and services. Grants from Dart Foundation and ANS Foundation launched Texcellence in 2007, and their support continues to underwrite the program. Starting in 2009, sparked by funding from philanthropist Allan Weis, ANS Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, and The Bank of America Charitable Foundation, families have also had the option to add Internet access. B.J.’s Charitable Foundation, Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s Future Fund, and Jon F. Swift, Inc. are also sponsoring distributions and trainings this year. The William G. and Marie Selby Foundation made a major new grant to the program this spring. Other individuals, businesses and civic groups provide gifts in multiples of $250, the cost of supplying one computer and training for a family.
The program was inspired by local teacher Ron Zimmerman, who refurbished gently used computers in his garage for students in need. Today, any family with children in Sarasota County’s public schools who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals can qualify for one of the recycled computers.
Klein is already gearing up for 2011-2012. “In this economy, these families simply can’t afford to provide a computer at home, but they know how important this technology is to their children’s future. They go to great lengths to participate in Texcellence because they are truly motivated to help their children succeed.”
Bernadine James, Garden Elementary 3rd grader Bianca James, Lakeview Elementary 3rd grader Maya Chavez Bunnell, Lisa Chavez.
Tuttle Elementary 1st grader Valeria Hernandez, Emily Hernandez, Booker Middle’s Juan Hernandez and Riverview High’s Roxanne Sierra Ruiz.
Glenallen Elementary students Dale Binns and Beyonce Kalphat.