The State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program granted Ruediger Elementary with $25,000. Ruediger was one out of 40 Neighborhood Assist winners.
The State Farm Assist Program began accepting applications back in June. They received over a thousand submissions. This is the tenth year the company is awarding this grant to organizations. The State Farm Review Committee narrowed the decision to the top 200 finalists. The public got to choose the top 40 winners.
State Farm’s Corporate Responsibility Analyst Jose Soto, says the organization only picks the first two thousand submissions. They base their decision off of three questions that all contestants are asked.
“We really only ask them three simple questions,” Soto said. “The questions revolve around how you would use the thousand dollars and how it would impact the community. Our decision was based on the quality of the answers submitted. Some states submitted more than others. In Florida, we had over 140 submissions.”
Ruediger plans to use the money for a new playground.
Caitlyn Whitley is a special education teacher, better known as an exceptional student education teacher, at Ruediger. Whitley sent in a submission to State Farm for the school herself. Ruediger is a Title I elementary school. Title I schools are usually not well funded, therefore, Whitley believed her school could really benefit from receiving this grant.
“I applied for this grant because I believe my students deserve to have as many opportunities to learn and enjoy life as they can,” Whitley said. “Installing new playground equipment will ensure that every student we serve will be able to actively participate on the playground. They can enjoy themselves while learning important social skills and making friends.”
The playground will accommodate the needs of exceptional students.
The playground the elementary school has now is very old. The equipment is not suitable for students with disabilities and students who have wheelchairs. The school’s new playground will include a swing that is wheelchair accessible and an elevated sandbox so that all children can reach.
Parents and teachers are very excited to see the new transition of the playground. Assistant Principal Melissa Summer says she was happy about receiving the grant and she is ready to see the new changes.
“We are very proud of all the hard work Caitlyn put into the grant,” Summer said. “The playground needs an update and we would love to see adaptive playground equipment.”
The design for the new playground will begin in six to eight weeks. The school hopes construction will begin soon after.