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By Paul Brucker
Alliant Credit Union has gone back to school – to help the students, teachers and administrators of Prescott Magnet Cluster School for pre-K to 8th graders in Chicago’s West Lakeview neighborhood.
This winter break each of Prescott’s 320 students will go home with three books to read and keep. For spring break, they’ll get an additional book and for the summer break, three more, including one written to develop financial literacy. Prescott teachers carefully select each student’s books so they are appropriate for his or her individual reading level and interests. And the Alliant Credit Union Foundation, our credit union’s not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to promoting economic empowerment and self-sufficiency, picks up the tab.
The book giveaway is part of an ongoing supportive relationship Alliant forged with Prescott in 2009. Aside from Foundation grants to buy school supplies and books for the students, Alliant employees have pitched in over the years. They have volunteered to provide financial literacy classes. For a few years, they provided the students with backpacks full of school supplies. And they have used their elbow grease for Prescott’s Service Days by planting flowers in the garden and painting playground equipment, walls and stairwells.
What about those stairwells? “Built in 1899, the school building hadn’t had a major facelift for a decade until Alliant employees came to help,” says Prescott Principal Erin Roche. “Alliant employees made our high-ceiling lobby look stunning. They gutted out the dirt caked in the intricate ironwork of our stair-case and repainted the stairs black. Plus, they painted the walls lily yellow.”
“In addition to improving our physical environment, Alliant continues to help us enhance our teaching environment,” Roche says. “We’re a school that focuses on literature and writing. Our mission is to nurture our students and help them become well-rounded and successful in academics, creativity, problem solving, social relationships and teamwork. It helps the students to know there are supporters, such as Alliant, dedicated to help them realize their potential.”
In 2009, Prescott students were scoring well below the standard for Illinois scholastic exams and the school was on the verge of being closed by the Chicago Public School System. But that was years ago. Prescott has since earned a reputation for its high-quality, caring teachers and administrators, including new principal Erin Roche, all of whom work hard to make learning fun. The school was recently ranked in the top 1% nationally in learning growth.
Prescott students are not shy about saying “thank you” for the support. Many of them sent Alliant fun, creative “thank you” notes for the school supplies provided by the Foundation. We’ve included several examples in this article.