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Annual Report is now available
The Foundation's 2011 report is available. Click here to see the electronic copy or for details on requesting a printed copy.
The Foundation mourns the loss of Paul R. Jenkins
Paul R. Jenkins died on Wednesday morning, May 16, 2012, in the presence of his wife and sons. He was 80.
As the chief executive for nearly three decades of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Jenkins played a very significant role in shaping the economic revitalization and cultural enrichment of West Virginia and greater Pittsburgh.
A Pittsburgh native, Jenkins was born in 1932 to Mary Elizabeth Reiber and Paul W. Jenkins, and grew up in Chatham Village on Mount Washington. He attended Shady Side Academy and Princeton University, where he earned a BA in history.
Following graduation from Princeton, Jenkins attended the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. There he met and married Alice Jane Davis of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and the two settled in Pittsburgh in 1957. Jenkins began his career that year as an associate with the law firm Campbell, Thomas & Burke (now Sherrard, German & Kelly, P.C.) later becoming a partner.
Jenkins’ association with the Benedum Foundation began two years after he joined the law firm when, upon the death of Michael L. Benedum, it became a substantial grant-making institution. At the firm, Jenkins served as counsel, assisting with the various legal affairs involved in running a large foundation.
His assistance to the Foundation was so valued that in 1970 he was appointed as the foundation’s full-time chief executive. In 1977, he was elected to the Board of Trustees, on which he continued to serve following his retirement in 1998, being named an Emeritus Trustee in 2003.
In 1996 he was named a “Distinguished West Virginian” by then-Governor Gaston Caperton, the first time in the State’s history that a non-West Virginian had been so honored. The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts honored him with a Cultural Award. He also received honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Charleston and West Virginia University.
Mr. Jenkins was actively involved as a director of several non-profit organizations in Pittsburgh, West Virginia and elsewhere. He was a founding Director, member of the Executive Committee, and Treasurer of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. The Trust named him a Lifetime Trustee in 2009 for his leadership and vision in creating Pittsburgh’s award-winning Cultural District. Jenkins helped to spearhead the renovation of the historic Stanley Theatre to create the Cultural District’s flagship theatre, The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts.
Jenkins also served on the Board of the Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia, now known as the Clay Center. He was a trustee and former board chair of Shady Side Academy. He also served the First United Methodist Church of Pittsburgh as board chair twice as well as treasurer for 26 years.
“Paul Jenkins’ values, commitment, wisdom, guidance, and leadership have shaped the Foundation more than those of any other person. He took a small and uncertain organization and molded it into a vibrant and dynamic philanthropy serving West Virginia and the Pittsburgh region,” wrote Paul G. Benedum, Jr. in 1998 upon Jenkins’ retirement.
The Foundation’s current President, William P. Getty, said, “Paul’s leadership and vision in teacher preparation and access to quality health care for rural populations in West Virginia, and on the Cultural District in Pittsburgh, remain very evident in 2012, and still guide the work of the Foundation.”
Mr. Jenkins was a devoted husband and father. He was known by friends for his wit, humor and joie de vivre. One of his favorite pastimes was fishing with his family and friends on the lakes and bays of Ontario, Canada. He was a member of the Duquesne Club, Fox Chapel Golf Club, and Iron City Fishing Club.
He is survived by his wife, Alice Jane (Davis) Jenkins, his sons, Davis (Pamela) of Chicago, Ted (Holly) of Andover, Massachusetts, and Walter (Laura) of Pittsburgh, his brother, Marten (Gail) of Pittsburgh and six grandchildren.
Friends will be received on Saturday, May 19, 2012, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the JOHN A. FREYVOGEL FUNERAL HOME, 4900 Centre Avenue. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, May 20, at 2:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 5401 Centre Avenue.
Contributions may be made to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, 803 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, 15222, or the First United Methodist Church, 5401 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, 15232.
The gift of the 79 bus: It would be the perfect Mother's Day present for many of the Marys in our region
May 13, 2012 12:27 am
By Barbara Sieck Taylor
Today, many mothers will enjoy special treatment -- breakfast in bed, greeting cards, flowers or a handmade gift proudly borne home from school. Mary Hefferan wants something different. She wants her bus route.
Mary doesn't own a car; she uses three buses to get from East Hills to work. Leaving at 7 a.m. with her 5-year-old and 2-year-old in tow, she rides the 79 bus to Wilkinsburg, drops the kids at child care, takes the East Busway to Downtown and changes to the 51 to get to her welfare-to-work job placement on the South Side. She works from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., then reverses the process.
Mary is also earning her GED because she recognizes that "in today's society, you need an education to go somewhere."
Her children are her top priority, Mary says. "Like any mom, I just want them to grow up normally. I don't want them in trouble; I want them in activities. If they make it through high school and college, I'll be happy!"
Unfortunately, Mary's path to self-sufficiency will get even steeper Sept. 2 if the 79 bus is eliminated. Every day, she would have to walk up two hills, through a parking lot and across a major artery (Frankstown Road) with two small children to catch the 77 bus. She would have to leave home an hour earlier.
As fall becomes winter, Mary and her children would be navigating these walks in darkness. Her day would stretch to 11 hours -- though only four would be spent at her workplace. She is even considering moving -- though she would have to ask her caseworker for help with a security deposit, because otherwise, as she puts it, "I won't have a way out of my community."
If additional funding does not arrive and the proposed cuts in Port Authority service take effect, Mary's story will not be unusual. The board and members of Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania, the region's association for philanthropy, are greatly concerned about the thousands of Marys who are just making it, or on their way to making it, but who could be up-ended by transit service reductions.
Heather Arnet, CEO of Women and Girls Foundation, put it this way: "As grant-makers, we invest in strengthening child care access, educational opportunities, affordable housing and workforce development for women. But all of these systems rely on public transportation to connect moms with social services and with jobs."
This loss of a basic service would jeopardize many of the grant investments so many funders have made to improve the quality of life in our region. While GWP's 84 private and corporate foundations, corporate-giving programs and grant-making public charities fund diverse interests, the goal of all philanthropy is to make strategic investments that improve the health and well-being of families, communities and our region. And because philanthropic dollars are limited, grant-makers know that the region's challenges are best met through partnerships, with strong leadership from both public and private sectors.
Unfortunately, when it comes to public transit, it looks as though leadership is missing in action. That is why, for the first time in GWP's history, its board has decided to speak out. We urge all those with decision-making power on this vital public service to quickly develop a solution.
Recently announced reductions in Port Authority service would undermine virtually every investment philanthropic organizations make. A few examples:
• Highmark recently announced grants totaling $2 million to support career development and job training. Mary's situation illustrates the challenges that many individuals face in connecting to these opportunities if adequate public transportation is unavailable.
• Many GWP members -- including Colcom Foundation, Duquesne Light, EQT, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, The Heinz Endowments, Hillman Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation, PNC and U.S. Steel -- support the Breathe Project, which highlights the relationships between air quality, public health and a robust economy. Reductions in bus and T service would translate into increased auto exhaust, poorer air quality, a higher incidence of health problems such as asthma and more missed days of work and school -- threatening the academic progress of Mary's children and thousands of others.
• Together with state government, corporations, universities and private investors, grant-makers such as the Richard King Mellon Foundation and Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation have promoted technology-based economic development in our region. When technology entrepreneurs decide where to locate their businesses, robust public transit for their employees is one factor they consider. Deep cuts in transit would put at risk all the public and private investment made to date in this key industry.
Resolving how to sustain public transit could hardly be more urgent. The Allegheny Conference on Community Development points out that 50 percent of Downtown workers and 25 percent of Oakland workers use transit. Making it more time-consuming, expensive and in many cases impossible for employees to get to work, for students to get to school and for businesses to move goods from place to place would drive our economy in exactly the wrong direction.
Any solution would involve shared sacrifice from the Amalgamated Transit Union, taxpayers of Allegheny County and the commonwealth. The recommendations from Gov. Tom Corbett's Transportation Funding Advisory Commission present a good framework. Lawmakers may differ over the appropriate level of public-sector support for transportation and the best ways to pay for it. But a functioning democracy demands that elected officials find solutions that do not degrade our region's economy or the ability of the 230,000 southwestern Pennsylvanians who use public transit each day to participate in it.
Mary Hefferan is laboring to join the workforce, and transportation should be a help, not a hindrance. Keeping the 79 bus running ... now that would be a real Mother's Day gift.
Barbara Sieck Taylor is executive director of Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania, whose membership consists of 84 of the region's leading private foundations, corporate foundations, corporate giving programs and grant-making public charities.
3/22/2012 - Foundation Announces Board of Trustee Changes
The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation announced that Ralph J. Bean, Jr. has stepped down as an active Trustee of the Foundation and has been elected an Emeritus Trustee. Thomas A. Heywood, Managing Partner at Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love, LLP, in Charleston, has been elected to replace Mr. Bean, effective April 1, 2012.
Mr. Bean, an attorney with Steptoe & Johnson PLLC in Bridgeport, West Virginia, has served as a Trustee of the Foundation since 1992. His long career of service to West Virginia continues with his membership on boards such as Vision Shared, the I-79 Development Council, the West Virginia University Foundation (emeritus), and Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation (emeritus). Prior to joining Steptoe & Johnson PLLC, he served as President of Hope Gas, Inc., now Dominion Hope. Mr. Bean looks forward to maintaining a close relationship with the Foundation and its work in West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania. The Foundation will continue to draw upon his extensive knowledge and commitment to further the mission of the Foundation.
Mr. Heywood has served West Virginia and its people in many capacities. He was Chief of Staff and Counsel to Governor Gaston Caperton and law clerk to the Honorable Judge John A. Field of the U.S. Court of Appeals. His numerous board and commission commitments have included: the College Completion Task Force, West Virginia Jobs Cabinet, Independent Commission on Judicial Reform, Affordable Insurance Workgroup, Health Advisory Council, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Advisory Council, Community & Technical College Implementation Board, Vision Shared, Imagine West Virginia, and PIECES (early childhood partnership).
He has received numerous public service awards, including the James R. Thomas Community Service Award in 2010, the Alliance for Children Leadership Award in 2006, and the Margaret Baldwin Friend of Education Award in 2000, and he recently was recognized by The State Journal as one of the “10 Most Influential Business Leaders in West Virginia.”
Mr. Heywood received his B.A. from Stanford University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he served as Editor of the Harvard International Law Journal.
3/2012 - Power of 32 issues Regional Agenda Report
Engaging thousands of citizens, pulling together leaders in business, government and philanthropy, The Power of 32 bridged the borders of 32 counties and 4 states to create one shared vision.
The report on the regional agenda includes 14 initiatives designed to achieve our shared vision for a thriving region by 2025.
3/28/2012 - ‘Arts and Bots’ program launches in Early Education STEM Center
By HILARY FREEMAN - The Parthenon
At the Early Education STEM Center at Marshall University, pre-K students have a new robotic friend name “Sarah.”
Sarah is the beginning of a project called “Arts and Bots” by the June Harless Center of the College of Education at Marshall to encourage learning in math, science, robotics and engineering through creating robots with everyday items.
“The teachers, with the kids, get to design robots out of familiar arts and crafts materials,” said Terabeth Brumfield, coordinator of Arts and Bots. “The kids decorate the robots and have all kinds of fun with it.”
In the past couple of months, the Arts and Bots program has been piloted at three local schools in hopes of expanding to many more, Brumfield said.
“They have been piloted at Huntington High, Ceredo Elementary and South Point High School — plus, it has been used at our Early Education STEM Center,” Brumfield said. “We are trying to get it off the ground and getting the bugs worked out. This summer, we will hold a bigger training session with more teachers and more schools.”
During the summer, the training for more teachers and pre-service teachers will allow them to build their own robots and see how the Arts and Bots program works and what their classes will be doing once Arts and Bots is in their classrooms.
Arts and Bots is a brainchild of the CREATE Lab of the Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab at Carnegie Mellon with whom the June Harless Center is one of only five satellite partners.
Arts and Bots and the partnership with the CREATE Lab is made possible through a grant from the Benedum Foundation.
In the past, the CREATE Lab has offered West Virginia Schools the GigaPan — a camera that can take hundreds of pictures to create one large coherent picture to allow students from one side of the globe to see a picture of life on the other.
The June Harless Center will be hosting camps in the summer for elementary age students to work one-on-one with these new Art Bots.
“The goal is for students to learn about robotics and engineers,” Brumfield said. “It was started as a program for middle school girls to keep them interested in science because that’s usually when they lose interest, but it worked so well, they said why not let everybody use it.”
2/20/2012 - Gardening Can Lead To A Whole New Level Of Health, Says Green Wheeling Initiative
Feb 20, 2012 5:22 PM By D.K. Wright, Digital Journalist
A garden on every corner, and fresh locally-grown fruits and vegetables on every plate--that's the goal of the Green Wheeling Initiative.
This is the subject of the Feb. 27 Public Garden Lecture to be presented by the Ohio County Master Gardeners at Oglebay Park.
The Green Wheeling Initiative's mission is to make healthy food available and affordable by redirecting the flight of Wheeling's food dollar toward locally-grown foods.
People from all walks of life are getting involved in GWI, building a network of community gardens that has attracted the attention of local schools, social service agencies, city planners and area churches.
There are now 11 neighborhood gardens with plans for at least five additional sites in 2012. So far, sites include the East Wheeling Community Gardens on 14th, 15th and 18th streets; The Virginia Apartments Rubble Garden in North Wheeling; the Culinary Arts Garden at West Virginia Northern Community College; the Children's Victory Garden at 11th and Main streets; the South Wheeling Alive Garden across from Pulaski Park; the Wheeling Island Rats Community Garden behind Madison School; and the Teaching Garden and Garden of the Seven Gates, both at the New Vrindaban Community.
GWI is partnering with West Virginia Northern Community College, the Hess Family Foundation and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to bring about a 10 percent shift toward a local food economy.
One of the key initiatives is the gardening micro-grant project.
This provides grant money to people who want to create community gardens in the Wheeling area. Between mid-April and September, GWI is planning a series of 15 workshops focusing on hands-on gardening skills.
They believe the hunger problem in America is one of quality as well as quantity.
They say everyone, regardless of economic background, is "nutritionally starving," because the food we eat is grown in chemically-saturated soil.
The GWI has blossomed from an informal grass roots gardening organization to a working collaborative of urban gardens, rural farms, local academic institutions, soup kitchens and food pantries in the Ohio Valley.
Presenters at the Public Garden Lecture will include Danny Swan, founder of the East Wheeling Gardens and graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University; Ken Peralta, GWI consultant, film maker and MBA graduate of Harvard University; and Terry Sheldon, project director for the Small Farm Training Center, with a background in organic gardening.
The program will be presented at 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 27, at the Schrader Environmental Training Center at Oglebay Park.
As always, the Public Garden Lectures are free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served
2/15/2012 - W.Va. Shows Significant Improvement in Child Abuse Rates
Reporter: Bill Murray
RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A belt across the face -- that's the form of punishment police say Donald Tackett inflicted on his 3-year-old daughter in late January 2012.
"I've got three children of my own," Patrolman Johnathan Thompson says. "I couldn't image somebody, no matter what the child's done, act that hostile toward your children. It's just sickening."
That type of crime often makes headlines; meetings to help prevent the problem of child abuse often do not.
On Wednesday, a group of child advocates gathered at the West Virginia Cultural Center in Charleston to learn more about the West Virginia Legislative Action Team and its efforts to pass legislation that impact a child's well-being.
Jim McKay is the state Coordinator for Prevent Child Abuse America. He says, " Prevention is much more than reporting your suspicions; it's how do we help families."
The 2011 West Virginia Kids Count Data Book shows a dramatic improvement in the state's child abuse and neglect rates. It shows the rate has improved by 21.8 percent since 2005.
"I was pleasantly surprised by the number," says West Virginia Kids Count Director Margie Hale. "For a long time we didn't have baseline data to compare it with for many years. Recently we got that. I'm hoping the number is the beginning of a real trend."
Other highlights of this year's data show: the teen injury/death rate has improved by 15.4 percent, the child death rate has improved by 8.8 percent.
However, during the same period, the percent of births to unmarried teens got 13 percent worse and the teen birth rate worsened by 10.9 percent.
West Virginia is the only state in the nation that has seen an increase in those numbers
1/7/2012 - Health Care Meetings to Begin
By C.V. Moore, Register-Herald Reporter
On Tuesday in Pineville, West Virginians for Affordable Health Care (WVAHC) kicks off a series of meetings to explain to the citizenry the ins and outs of 2010’s federal health care legislation.
Gibbs Kinderman will speak on behalf of WVAHC at the meeting, with presentations in Beckley, Oak Hill, and Summers County to follow.
Kinderman says the goal of the session is to give people basic, factual information about what the act will mean for them.
“It’s very complex. It’s 2,000 pages long,” he says. “There’s a lot of confusion about what it really says, and a lot of sensationalistic statements about it.”
Rather than debate the merits of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Kinderman will simply explain how it works.
“It’s not a matter of selling it,” he says. “It’s a matter of letting people know what it really says.”
While some provisions went into effect last year, in 2014 other major components of the act that affect children, 18-to-24-year-olds, and low-income individuals will be implemented.
Kinderman says that currently two groups concern him the most.
“First are people 50 years and up who lost their jobs, because in 90 percent of cases they won’t get another one, and very few are eligible for any kind of coverage because they don’t have children,” he says.
“The other group is young families who don’t have good health insurance through work, or none at all. Those young families are going to be able to get coverage starting in 2014.”
Kinderman, a resident of Pocahontas County, became interested in health care 44 years ago when he helped create a neighborhood health center in Raleigh County, designed as a precursor to national health insurance.
“As a young guy, 24 years old, I was really concerned about people’s access to health care,” he says. “That program brought health care to a lot of people.”
While grants lasted, the Mountaineer Family Health Plan was free to those who qualified based on income. Even at its maximum price, the program cost only $60 per month for a family of four.
Kinderman says he has watched as multiple generations of politicians struggled to provide affordable health care to the American people, before the 2010 act finally sealed the deal.
“It’s kind of cool to be as old as I am and this thing I’ve thought was important my whole adult life became reality, and I get to help explain it to people,” he says. “It’s been a real treat.”
WVACH was formed in 2006 by people across the state who were interested in getting better access to health care, says Kinderman. When the Affordable Care Act passed, the group received a grant from the Claude Benedum Foundation to offer informational sessions to citizens.
The first session is Tuesday at noon in Pineville, at the Department of Health and Human Resources building, hosted by the Family Resource Network. Call Kathy Brunty at 304-923-4280 for more information.
Then Jan. 19, Kinderman visits the Raleigh County Family Resource Network at 11 a.m. for another public forum in Beckley. The event is at the Raleigh County Commission on Aging, 1614 S. Kanawha St.
The Fayette County Family Resource Network will host a meeting Jan. 26 at 1400 Virginia St. in Oak Hill. A forum in Summers County will take place in February.
7/31/2011 - Power of 32: Counties look across state borders for economic boost
By Ann Belser, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
CUMBERLAND, Md. -- The screaming at the top of Wisp Mountain is the result of economic development in Garrett County, Md. It's coming from rafters -- people who pay $50 a seat to ride 1,700 feet of rapids. They ride the rapids of a man-made river, then take a conveyor belt back to the top of the white-water course to do it again.
Garrett County is not relying on Garrett County for its economic well-being. Instead, realizing that people ignore the artificial boundaries laid down between states and counties, five counties that just happen to sit inside different states -- Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia -- are working together for economic development. More
7/29/2011 - Scheduling births before full term can be risky
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Expectant mothers had various reasons for wanting to deliver their babies early.
They may have wanted their children born on a grandmother's birthday, or they may have become intolerant of the side effects of late pregnancy. And most thought it was safe to have a baby from 36 to 38 weeks gestation.
"It just had become so accepted," Nancy Tolliver said of the practice of inducing labor before 39 weeks.
And it wasn't always done at the convenience of the mother, said Tolliver, director of the West Virginia Perinatal Partnership.
She outlined this scenario. A pregnant woman has pains and thinks she is going into labor. She is taken to the hospital, a two-hour drive away. But she isn't; labor is still several hours off. Although it's best not to admit her, the doctor is afraid to send her home. She is admitted, but there's a time limit on how long she can stay. So her doctor decides to induce labor. More
7/21/2011 - Arts-in-Education Awards announced
By MICHAEL ERB, Parkersburg News and Sentinel
The Arts-in-Education Awards, ranging from $2,700 to $5,000 each, will be used to support art-focused school projects at schools throughout the region. Our Community's Foundation includes the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and regional affiliates of Doddridge, Jackson, Little Kanawha area, Mason and Ritchie counties.
The grants were made available through a partnership with the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation of Pittsburgh which provided similar support to The Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley and the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation. The grants are to support projects that integrate the arts with core education disciplines and to stimulate partnerships between local schools and community artisans and arts organizations.
Among the grants received was $2,700 for Wood County Schools for "Two Famous Fuses," a countywide grant to commission development and presentation of an original ballet based on four science personalities - Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs- in partnership with a local ballet studio.
Parkersburg South High School received $5,000 for "Instruments of Appalachia." Students in the school's manufacturing arts-technical education programs will work with a retired educator and local instrument makers to learn about Appalachian instruments, including historic research and actually constructing musical instruments.
McKinley Elementary School will receive $5,000 for "Drawing Conclusions," an art and weather program. Blennerhassett Middle School will receive $4,500 for "Everlasting Art," a project combining watercolor painting and science activities.
Among the other projects and grant amounts approved were:
New Haven Elementary- $4,800 for "Budding Artists."
Spencer Primary School - $4,000 for "Exploring the World."
Ripley Middle School - $5,000 for "Phases of the Moon."
Wirt County High School - $4,000 for an "Outdoor Classroom."
Ripley High School - $5,000 for "Educational Elements."
Ripley Elementary School - $5,000 for "Embracing Arts."
Doddridge High School - $5,000 for "Music Technology."
Wirt County Primary Center - $5,000 for an "Art and Learning Garden."
Some programs are receiving additional project dollars from other sources.
"We are really excited about the opportunities this special initiative allows Our Community's Foundation to offer to our region's schools.," said foundation Executive Director Judy Sjostedt. "We know the students will really enjoy participating in these projects and improve their knowledge in the process."
6/28/2011 - School of public health moving ahead with plans
The West Virginia University Health Sciences program has created five separate academic departments to put the pre-accreditation process in motion of the new School of Public Health.
This process is being led by Alan Ducatman, chairperson and professor of community medicine, has appointed four committees to aid in the planning.
These committees are comprised of about 50 faculty representatives from all the Health Sciences schools and from the other divisions at the University.
The leaders of the committees include: Kimberly Horn, Marybeth Mandich, Department of Physical Therapy, co-chair, for education, Terry Jones, chair; Kim Innes, co-chair, for infrastructure, Matthew Gurka, chair; Suresh Madhavan, School of Pharmacy; Jeff Coben, Injury Control Research Center, co-chair for research; Chris Martin, M.D., chair; and Michael McCawley, Ph.D., co-chair, for service.
"This process has brought the people who were eager and excited to start the planning together," said Suresh Madhaven, co-chair of the research planning committee.
WVU has also recently obtained a $185,000 grant from the Benedum Foundation to assist further planning.
The money from the grant was used earlier this month for a planning event retreat for the planning committees and other University leaders. It was also used to cultivate relationships with other agencies and other successful public health schools.
Currently, there is an accredited master's degree program with approximately 100 students enrolled, as well as 19 doctoral students.
"We've put ourselves on a short timetable," Ducatman said. "We are moving quickly, faster than most schools".
Ducatman said that in spring 2012 the committees plan to submit a formal request for accreditation, which once accepted, will be another two-year process to carry out. Their goal is to receive accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health for undergraduate and graduate programs.
Five interim department chairs have also been named – Biostatistics: Matthew Gurka; Environmental Health: Michael McCawley; Epidemiology: Anoop Shankar; Health Services Administration and Policy: Michael Hendryx; and Social and Behavioral Health: Keith Zullig.
Ducatman said he was anxious to begin the next chapter in WVU history as soon as possible.
"It is a thrill to be starting a new school, especially one that is really important to the university", Ducatman said.
5/24/2011: Looking For Partners In Warmth
The Dollar Energy Fund is looking for Partners in Warmth.The West Virginia Utility Assistance Program has a two-year grant from the Benedum Foundation to promote the new initiative.
Assistance Program Director Danielle Snidow says the program will partner with businesses, churches, schools and civic groups across West Virginia. "They will agree to do some type of in-house fundraiser for us to help the West Virginia families in need or they could do a direct contribution," Snidow said. Top fundraisers in several different categories will be recognized during the Warmathon broadcast on Nov. 17.
Snidow says each dollar raised will be fully matched by the seven major utilities in West Virginia that take in the Dollar Energy Fund.
Snidow says the fund has assisted more than 10,000 state residents with utility assistance totaling $3.5 million since the program went into place in 2008. She says the Partners in Warmth program can help even more.
"This is really to take it to the next level, outreach statewide, to really help our West Virginia families in need who need a hand up during trying times," Snidow said. The assistance program has seen an increase this year in those seeking help. Snidow says the need was up for 40 percent in March and she expects the numbers to grow. Those eligible for utility assistance must meet several requirements including having a utility shut off notice or already having the service disconnected.
More information on the Partners in Warmth Network is available at or by calling 304-552-0515.
West Virginia Radio Corp. is a Partner in Warmth.
4/26/2011: Local foods movement gaining in popularity
By Julia Sendor, For the Register-Herald
BECKLEY - Fresh, homegrown food nourishing healthy families and healthy communities: That’s at the heart of a rapidly growing movement to support more locally produced foods.
In southern West Virginia and across the state, real results are taking root. A series of regional roundtables as well as a workshop held by the Appalachian Regional Commission have taken important steps by gathering a wide range of players in West Virginia’s food system: from farmers to chefs, concerned consumers, educators, parents, food pantry volunteers, farmers market managers, government officials, and other community members.
The first half of the regional roundtables, held earlier this month in Wheeling, Hico, and Parkersburg, drew over 100 participants.
“The roundtable was like a big shot of natural compost, where we all got together and looked at each other, and said, ‘All of us are into this?’” described Joy Marr, who runs Gourmet on the Gorge catering and event planning near Fayetteville and attended the roundtable in Hico. Marr’s business emphasizes local products, both farmed and gathered from the wild.
The roundtables prompted an outpouring of innovative and concrete ideas to support local farmers and get more fresh, local products to the plates of all West Virginians. Roundtable participants proposed projects ranging from kids getting their hands dirty in school gardening programs, to affordable local produce cooperatives organized through community colleges, to health care cooperatives for self-employed farmers.
The roundtables are laying the groundwork for long-term plans for a stronger farm economy and more affordable local produce, thanks to a partnership of the W.Va. Food and Farm Coalition, WVU Extension Service, the W.Va. Department of Education, Rural Support Partners, the W.Va. Community Development Hub, and other statewide and local partners.
Key players including the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and WVU’s Small Farm Center have supported development, and funding from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation made the series possible.
The final three roundtables, during the first week of May, will invite community members and groups from the Berkeley Springs, Philippi, and Charleston areas. Visit http:// www.wvhub.org/wvffc/west-virginia-food-charter for a full schedule of roundtables.
“All over the state, farmers, business owners and community leaders are coming up with great ideas for how to build our food economy and improve access to healthy food. They are also identifying some challenges,” said Savanna Lyons, program manager of the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition, which is providing logistical legwork for the roundtables.
“The roundtables are an opportunity to get all of those thoughts into the same place so that we can problem-solve together, and then figure out what our statewide action items need to be.”
The roundtable meetings mark the first phase of a four-part process to create a West Virginia Food Charter. A food charter lays out a vision for how a local food system can work, including how specific local and statewide policies can strengthen that food system. The West Virginia Food Charter, modeled loosely off of Michigan’s, will use widespread public input, much of it from the roundtable discussions, to set goals for West Virginia’s food system.
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On a broader scope, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is exploring local foods and sustainable agriculture as a possibility for serious investment in “Appalachia’s untapped resources for economic development.”
“The member states of the Appalachian Regional Commission are funding more and more food-related job creation projects to take advantage of Appalachia’s resources,” said Louis Segesvary, public affairs officer for the ARC.
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For information on the roundtables and the West Virginia Food Charter, visit www.wvhub.org/wvffc/west-virginia-food-charter
For information about the local foods work through the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition, visit http://www.wvhub.org/foodandfarmcoalition
3/10/11: Can Arts Education Be a Savior to the Economy?
West Virginia State Journal
Special Column by Jim Denova, of the Benedum Foundation and Gregg Behr, of The Grable Foundation.
In 2005, the National Academy of Science, National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine issued a report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm.” This report was a wake-up call to America’s loss of a competitive edge in technology and economic growth. A set of recommendations called for new investments in research and technology, and it challenged the educational system to increase the number of scientists and engineers in our work force. This spurred the educational system to accelerate efforts to recruit and prepare students in courses of studies and careers in what came to be known as STEM, which stands for Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Across the country and in West Virginia, we saw the birth of STEM summer camps, STEM outreach programs and STEM Academies.
The traditional STEM disciplines, however, do not sufficiently address another important ingredient in national and international competitiveness: creativity. A recent Newsweek cover story cited an IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs who identified creativity as the primary competency necessary in our work force to lead our nation to a prosperous future. So, creative talent, too, must be nurtured in our future hires.
How, then, do we cultivate creativity as something to be taught in our educational system? It is almost trite to say that the arts inspire creativity, but arts education is often relegated to the margins of formal education as something leisurely, non-academic or unrelated to employment or the economy.
Luckily, some educators see the intersection of the arts and traditional academic disciplines, and launched a new movement called STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. It is the next generation of STEM, and it elevates creativity to the pivotal role that glues the other disciplines together.
In education, STEAM is evident in some of the most advanced educational technology. Robots, for example, have long been a tool used to teach the STEM skills. By building, programming and activating robots, students must master physics, math and technology. Traditionally, educational robots resembled martial machines that compete in tournaments. With the advent of STEAM, educational robots have introduced design, and battling machines are being replaced by animatronic robots that represent animals, plants and fantasy characters, which are increasingly more appealing to young female students and students for whom art is the dominant form of expression. Another example of STEAM is game design. Many schools in West Virginia have adopted Globaloria, a game design curriculum that calls for students to work in teams and to apply programming, graphic design and music to solve a problem in a particular subject area. By using game design, the students are encouraged to fail (i.e., practice and try new things) repeatedly until they learn what works best. Globaloria has been integrated into biology, math, science and language arts classes, and it has been adapted as an elective course in several technical schools.
Educational tools like Globaloria and the broader integration of arts across the educational spectrum are key to West Virginia’s educational aspirations. West Virginia took a significant step forward when it became the second state in the union to join the Partnership for 21st Century Learning. As a result of this affiliation, the West Virginia Department of Education adopted a new and challenging set of standards, now named Global 21. These standards require students demonstrate not only content knowledge but also skills related to critical thinking, creativity, group problem solving and communication. And all of those are skills that are honed through the arts. In the arts-rich city of Pittsburgh, an ever-growing group has similarly recognized the importance of imparting such skills to young people, so they have come together for the principal purpose of fostering creative play and learning among children and youth. Known as “Kids+Creativity,” the group’s ranks include not only artists but also teachers, multimedia professionals, gamers, technologists and social workers. They meet in person and online; and during the past two years, Kids+Creativity has grown to become an engaged network of more than 200 people including executives of such museums as the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the ToonSeum, the CEOs of such companies as roBlocks and Kiddix, and even representatives from the West Virginia Department of Education and several West Virginia arts organizations. Importantly, they have forged new partnerships and enhanced existing STEM and arts initiatives as well as launched new STEAM projects.
One such project involves Carnegie Mellon University and Marshall University. A team of CMU computer science and design experts developed an educational tool called GigaPan, a panoramic robotic camera that allows students to create expansive and extremely detailed vistas of their environments. Student-generated photos and commentaries are then shared with classrooms around the world via the Internet. Through the CMU-Marshall partnership, Kellogg Elementary School in Wayne County is using GigaPan to join classrooms in Trinidad/Tobago, South Africa and India in a truly global international studies and foreign language program.
Another partnership also involving Carnegie Mellon University has attracted 75 school districts and approximately 50 organizations in western Pennsylvania (including libraries, museums and early learning centers) in helping children to capture stories about their hopes, dreams and ideas and then use all sorts of devices from Internet portals to story boxes and even talking teddy bears to advertise their stories in public places. Apart from teaching narrative and self-worth, it’s a project aimed at confronting the public with the creativity of local kids.
And it’s that very creativity that we must cultivate and develop. Children are naturally creative. They are inquisitive, they like to explore, they like to build things, and self-directed creativity is the natural way they learn. They make pretend phones out of juice boxes, and they design pretend computers using felt pieces and old cell phones. Educators must exploit kids’ innate creativity and uncover those things that attract children — whether it’s dance or video games, drumming or battling robots — and connect the neurons in their right and left brains in ways that prompt remarkable learning and subsequent thinking.
It happens when, for instance, chemistry and arts teachers come together to teach their students about the compounds of glass while their students make new pieces of art glass. It happens when librarians and technologists jointly mentor youth in a space full of both books and Apple’s latest gadgets. And it happens when parents ask their children to make a home film about their science projects.
Simply put, creativity is something that can be taught — in schools, at libraries and even in our own homes. More importantly, creativity is something that must be nurtured in all children. It’s not an exaggeration to say that our very future depends upon it. It’s what will keep that “Gathering Storm” away.
Jim Denova is vice president with the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. His primary responsibility is for program development and grantmaking in the areas of education and economic development. Gregg Behr is executive director of The Grable Foundation, a foundation dedicated to improving the lives of children.