‘Excellence in Education’ program to roll out this week

DOVER — Highly regarded, thriving local schools are crucial to expanding Central Delaware’s economic development, officials say.

The new Excellence in Education program is designed to assist teachers in readying students to enter the workforce of tomorrow.

A highly skilled talent pool will entice businesses to relocate here, and the program’s grant funding will help bolster the draw.

On Wednesday, Kent County’s Levy Court announced a $25,000 commitment to fund the grant’s first year, provide marketing money and create a foundational platform for the CenDel Foundation to manage.

“With the county’s support of this it will give a sense of confidence to other businesses and organizations to join us in the Excellence in Education’s mission moving forward,” said Tonda L. Parks, Delaware State News Director of Event Marketing & Community Outreach.

Community partners driving the program include the Greater Kent Committee, Kent Economic Partnership and the DSN.

Levy Court Administrator Michael J. Petit de Mange and Vice-President and Commissioner At-Large Terry L. Pepper expressed Kent County government’s support when addressing an array of local educational leaders, including superintendents, college and university representatives.

“I’ve never seen (our commissioners) back down when there’s the opportunity to do something that’s good for our community and this is another example of that,” Mr. Petit de Mange said.

County assistance was provided through the Fiscal Year 2020 general fund contingency budget along with the upcoming FY 2021 grant budget.
Organizers are now gathering input from school districts to see what’s most needed, and the first year may be particularly targeted on promoting the educational institutions and their greatest assets. Schools can receive added resources to create new programs and/or tweak existing ones as well.

“We’re being flexible on what grant funding will support,” Mrs. Parks said.
Mrs. Parks, Greater Kent Committee Executive Director Shelly Cecchett and Kent Economic Partnership Executive Director Linda Parkowski first discussed the concept for a program to bolster the ongoing pitch for economic development.

“The great thing about this is that you have the (GKC, KEP and DSN), local government and all the educational groups in lock step with each other in an effort to tell the great stories about what’s happening inside our schools,” Mrs. Cecchett said.

Program organizers outlined the EiE venture’s aim to:
• Serve as a guide to Kent County’s schools to highlight the collective attributes and innovative achievements of each of them while stressing the important role our schools play in economic development.
• Support specific programs in our local schools that focus on economic development with a grant program funded by local businesses and organizations.

• Recognize and support an interaction between the schools and businesses that rely on them for economic development.
The program has already accumulated $10,000 in contributions from businesses.

The Kramedas family and Axia Hotel Group, Raymond F. Book & Associates Certified Public Accountants and United Way of Delaware have made multiple year commitments and several other one-year commitments from businesses are secured.

Additionally, Faw Casson will sponsor upcoming realtor lunch and learn sessions to further inform the community of local educational assets.

The Excellence in Education program will be officially rolled out at the inaugural dinner on Wednesday, Nov. 13 at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino. A presentation highlighting Kent County’s educational assets will be included.
Individual dinner tickets are $125 each or tables of 10 can be purchased for $750. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with networking and a cash bar, followed by welcome and introductions at 6:30 and buffet dinner and program running from 7 to 8:30.

Program organizers are now working to secure added funding from other entities.
More information on supporting the economic development initiative is available by calling 741-8200, emailing dsnevents@newszap.com or going online to DelmarvaEvents.net.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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