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Guest Voices: How Bright Minds Enhances Education for All Howard County Students

May 1st, 2020

Liz Crammond speaking at a podium.

As Executive Director of Bright Minds, the Howard County public schools’ educational foundation, Liz Crammond oversees the administration, programs, fundraising and strategic plan of the foundation. Before joining Bright Minds in 2018, Crammond worked for 10 years with nonprofit organizations including United Way of Central Maryland, Community Action Council of Howard County, and Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic. Here she shares how Bright Minds works to enhance education and achievement for HCPSS students.

Bright Minds Foundation works to ensure all children attending Howard County public schools have a chance to succeed in school and in life.

As the educational foundation of the HCPSS, Bright Minds brings together private and community resources to support academic initiatives and opportunities that enhance the educational experiences of all Howard County public school students.

Bright Minds’ programs provide valuable enhancement to HCPSS programs and services in areas of equity and access, education innovation, and skills for life. We help level the playing field so all students have a chance to succeed.

Here are some highlights of how Bright Minds’ programs are making a real impact for Howard County students:

Access to Learning Fund: We launched an emergency fund to raise money for education access supports for HCPSS students during the coronavirus school closure. Thanks to our generous donors–including The Kahlert Foundation, Mary and Earl Armiger, and Susan and Steve Porter–we have been able to support remote student learning as needs arise.

Computers for Students. We help bridge the homework gap for students who lack access to technology. With support from donors such as Comcast and The Kahlert Foundation, Bright Minds has provided over 1,500 students with computers, training, and resources to ensure they have the tools they need to complete homework, conduct research, and prepare for college and career.

Read with Me • Howard County. Bright Minds’ newest program provides one book each month to children from birth to age five to help build a home library and expand support and resources to ensure that all children in Howard County enter school ready to succeed. This program has already supported over 1,000 children, thanks to funding support from the Howard County Government.

New JumpStart participants tour the Howard Community College campus.

Photo caption: New JumpStart participants tour the Howard Community College campus.

Support for JumpStart Students. We help students develop skills, earn college credits, and explore career options by covering the costs of books and fees for income-eligible students participating in JumpStart, the dual-enrollment partnership between HCPSS and Howard Community College. We are committed to ensuring all students have the chance to take advantage of the JumpStart program. One student recipient stated “I always saw college in my trajectory so I could deepen my knowledge…but my family does not have the funds for me to continue going to college. The Bright Minds Foundation [scholarship] will help me reach my goals by giving me the extra support needed to further my education.”

Randy Patterson works with a young male student.

Photo caption: Randy Patterson, a 4th grade paraeducator at Stevens Forest Elementary School, guides young male students in developing the social skills that help them navigate their community and become consistent, persistent and present servant leaders. The program, Boys On A New Direction (BOND), is supported by a Bright Minds’ Staff and Teacher Grant.

Classroom Innovation Projects. We have awarded more than $145,000 through 85 projects to HCPSS teachers and staff to support innovative instructional curriculum that builds 21st century skills. For example, Hanover Hills Elementary reading specialists received a Bright Minds grant to create Husky Packs to support learning in reading and math. Each backpack includes a self-contained and motivating collection of books, exercises and fun activities to encourage the partnership between home and school, while supporting a student’s classroom performance and enthusiasm. Also provided are resources and training to empower families in supporting students’ academic success. The packs are especially targeted to help students needing extra academic support or who are English Language Learners.

Doug Spicher teaches a male and female student how to use a camera.

Photo caption: Wilde Lake Middle School students learn advanced photojournalism skills using specialized equipment funded by a Bright Minds’ Staff and Teacher Grant. Taught by GT Resource Teacher Doug Spicher, the program helps students prepare for high school classes and sparks interest in a possible career, especially among underrepresented populations.

Find more information about Bright Minds at brightmindsfoundation.org.

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