Members of the newly formed Friends of Moffat County Education pose for a photo Thursday in the Sandrock Elementary School library. The group recently obtained its nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service and is launching its first project, a book drive designed to gather 13,000 books for local children. Pictured, from left, are board president Chris Jones and members Michele Chalmers, Bill Lawrence and Jeremy Browning.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Members of the newly formed Friends of Moffat County Education pose for a photo Thursday in the Sandrock Elementary School library. The group recently obtained its nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service and is launching its first project, a book drive designed to gather 13,000 books for local children. Pictured, from left, are board president Chris Jones and members Michele Chalmers, Bill Lawrence and Jeremy Browning.

Friends with a focus: New education group launches first project

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At a glance:

• A newly formed education group goes public and unveils its first project.

• Friends of Moffat County Education is designed to raise funds for projects geared toward students in the Moffat County School District, as well as those in preschool and who are home schooled.

• The group’s 13-3 Book Project began Monday to gather used books for local children in preschool through fifth grade.

• Residents can drop off used children’s books through April 13 at the following locations:

— East Elementary School, 600 Texas Ave.

— Ridgeview Elementary School, 600 Westridge Road

— Sandrock Elementary School, 201 E. Ninth St.

— Sunset Elementary School, 800 W. Seventh St.

— Craig Middle School, 915 Yampa Ave.

— Moffat County High School, 900 Finley Lane

Quotable:

“As the group started to gain traction … I quickly realized that the purpose of a group is not to replace money in a budget but to create an environment that enriches the education for all the kids in the community.”

— Chris Jones, Friends of Moffat County Education board president, on the new group’s formation

photo

Chris Jones/Courtesy

Friends of Moffat County Education, a newly formed nonprofit group, is organizing a book drive designed to collect enough used books and cash donations to give 13,000 books to local preschool through fifth-grade students. The drive started Monday and continues through April 13.

Although Bill Lawrence’s two children have long since graduated from Moffat County High School, he still has reason to be involved with local schools.

“I just think it’s so important that we try to enhance the educational opportunities for our students,” the 67-year-old Craig resident said.

Lawrence is one of 10 board members with Friends of Moffat County Education.

The new group, designed to raise funds and provide educational opportunities to local students, began meeting in late 2011, but board members wanted to wait until the group received its nonprofit status and launched its first project before going public, board president Chris Jones said in an email.

After receiving its 501(c)(3) status March 13, the board launched its first initiative, the 13-3 Book Project, which began Monday.

The project is designed to gather enough used books and cash donations by April 13 to give away 13,000 books to local preschool through fifth-grade students.

The project is one of several on the group’s horizon, board members said.

The idea for forming Friends of Moffat County Education sprung in spring 2011 when the Moffat County School District was facing a second straight year of budget cuts, Jones said.

However, the organization isn’t focused solely on the fiscal side of education.

“As the group started to gain traction … I quickly realized that the purpose of a group is not to replace money in a budget but to create an environment that enriches the education for all the kids in the community,” including those who attend public schools or preschools or are taught at home, Jones said.

He and other board members stressed that Friends of Moffat County Education is different than Maximum Commitment to Excellence, another recently formed community-based education group.

Commitment to Excellence’s goal is to make residents aware of the importance of education, as well as provide the school district with a volunteer base, Commitment to Excellence member Scott Cook said.

By contrast, Friends of Moffat County Education focuses on “specifically targeted funding initiatives for projects that we think are worthwhile,” said Jeremy Browning, one of the group’s board members.

While Commitment to Excellence’s membership includes business owners and representatives from the City of Craig and Moffat County, Friends of Moffat County Education is made up primarily of parents, with room for one school district representative and two members who don’t have children in local schools.

“When you look at an education organization, you need to have everyone in the community involved,” Jones said of the two at-large board positions.

Browning is of the same mind.

In his view, the health of the local education system isn’t a concern solely for parents.

“Everybody benefits from a good, strong, well educated community,” he said.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1793 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com.

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