INK! receives $20,600 funding for computers, supplies, equipment, and transportation from Rotary Clubs in St. Johns County, Fla.

Local Rotary Clubs and Rotary International Foundation empower Rotarians to advance regional, domestic and world understanding, goodwill, and peace through improvements and funding of education and health nonprofits, and the alleviation of poverty. Recently, four Clubs in St. Johns County, Fla. have fulfilled member support and donations with more than $20,600 to benefit programs and services provided by The St. Johns County Education Foundation, Inc. which operates as INK! (Investing in Kids).

Monetary contributions from Rotary Club of Hastings, Rotary Club of St.
Phillip Burnham, Owner, Sundown Wraps & Tinting; Kathy Mignerey, Member, Rotary Club of St. Augustine Sunrise; Marie Turnbull, Past President and member of Rotary Club of St. Augustine Beach; Mike Birch, local coordinator and chair for northwest St. Johns County Rotary Youth Exchange and member of Rotary Club of St. Johns; Donna Lueders, Executive Director, INK! (Investing in Kids), and Brian Corson, Board President, INK! (Investing in Kids) and Vice President, VyStar Credit Union.

Augustine, Rotary Club of St. Augustine Beach, Rotary Club of St. Augustine Sunrise, and Rotary Club of St. Johns will help INK! with basic learning and literacy intervention for students and provide support for teachers throughout the County. The funds will also assist educators with early identification and treatment for children who are at risk for reading and learning skills failure.

According to Donna Lueders, INK!’s Executive Director, the nonprofit provides innovated programs and classroom resources to promote the academic success of St. Johns County public school students. The organization was established in 1994 after issues became apparent that local schools and teachers needed additional resources beyond what is provided by federal, state, local governments, and parent associations.

“Demands for more revenue increases as the student population continues to rise. For the last several years, the student population has grown by a minimum of four percent annually. Additional students require more educators to be hired and District funds are bare bones,” said Lueders. “The problem is that students and teachers are suffering while working extremely hard every day to obtain the tools necessary for academic success. Today’s classrooms are less likely to be equipped so all types of learners can achieve. Educators must look to outside resources for support,” she said.

In 2020, INK! generated more than $840,000 back into classrooms to enhance public education in St. Johns County, however the nonprofit cannot sustain its mission without having the proper tools, funding, and equipment. With the new donation, Rotarians can get involved in activities while volunteering to help fill and deliver supply orders along with mentoring students, volunteering in classrooms and at events, to name a few.
“As the student population increases, it is INK!’s responsibility that the highest amount of revenue be sent into classrooms. The Rotary grant presents an upgrade in technology and a vehicle trailer. This will allow our staff to focus on student and teacher needs rather than spending fruitless hours trying to work with outdated equipment or searching for a trailer to haul equipment and supplies to schools,” said Lueders.

Items purchased with the grant include the latest in technology with laptop computers, monitors, keypads and mouses, wireless and universal docking stations, software, and an enclosed and customized trailer with sponsor graphics, among others.

“Many underserved students need to make connections between school, community, work, and the global enterprise to inspire their abilities and compete in a local and worldwide economy. We have learned that students who start behind in school tend to stay behind without proper intervention. Early intervention with competitive equipment and learning curriculum leads to higher graduation rates and, ultimately, better communities,” said Lueders.

INK! provides innovative resources to support academic success for all St. Johns County public schools to benefit 44,000 students and approximately 2,785 teachers. The office is located at 1 Christopher St. in St. Augustine. For more information, contact Donna Lueders at 904-547-7120 or email Donna.Lueders@stjohns.k12.fl.us. Visit the website at www.ink-stjohns.org.