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Local

Berg Middle School after-school program funded by late benefactor

Dickinson left $12,000 for specific need

There were many ways the late Elizabeth “Betty” Dickinson tried to improve the lives of young people.

Dickinson, whose life was described in a Nov. 25 story in the Newton Daily News, donated enough money to have a University of Iowa scholarship set up in her name when she passed away in January. She also left $12,000 for a specific after-school program.

Berg Middle School Assistant Principal Amy Shannon said while BMS has had after-school academic support for years, a more multi-faceted program will be most welcome.

“Families across the country are beginning to recognize the tremendous benefits a quality after-school program can provide,” Shannon said. “Because they can offer an array of activities not always available during the traditional school day, these programs give students many opportunities for growth and learning they might not find elsewhere.”

Dickinson donated the money through a grant to the Newton Community Educational Foundation. The innovative after-school program will integrate academic support into a larger program that promotes the social, emotional and physical development of students.

Dickinson, who graduated as salutatorian from Newton High School in 1943, helped many hundreds of Newton alumni by administering the Maytag Scholarship Program during her 39-year career with the Maytag Foundation. She is also remembered for her extensive church and community involvement as a lifelong member of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, she served as a Eucharistic Minister and was a director/officer of the Sacred Heart Cemetery Association.

Dickinson, who never married or had children, participated as a volunteer for numerous organizations including Project AWAKE, the Newton Transformation Council and the Newton chapter of Dollars for Scholars.

The legacy of Elizabeth Dickinson’s commitment to Newton students continues with this grant. Berg Middle School uses a program called Campus Connect, where students have access to teachers for assistance with homework, to prepare for tests and collaborate on assignments.

Participants then transition to a club of their choice for the remainder of the afternoon. The grant provides funding for opportunities for reading contests, painting, drawing, music and physical development in addition to academics.

Three different sessions are planned during the school year so students can develop new skills and talents in many different areas. Shannon did not have exact dates available about when the club would meet this year.

NCEF President Mark Allen said his organization would not normally be able to help fund such a program without such a generous donation.

“We believe the funding of the after school program at Berg this year is of critical importance to allow students that important study time before after school activities,” Allen said. “The NCEF is so appreciative for this donation, and we are so thankful for all who continue to support our mission in Newton.”

The NCEF has supported innovative educational programs in Newton schools since 1990. Financed entirely through donations, seventeen funds are under management including family, individual, organization, and NHS Class endowments. The Foundation also maintains a general fund that welcomes gifts of any amount. For more information, please contact NCEF administrative director Desiree Cameron at newton.ncef@gmail.com.

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