Announcing the 2021 Siemer Milling Endowment for Youth Leadership Development Grant Recipients


Effingham, IL-(Effingham Radio)- The Community Foundation of Southeast Illinois is pleased to announce the Siemer Milling Endowment Fund for Youth Leadership Development awarded seven grants totaling $63,124 to the following programs.

$5,000 Grant to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Illinois

Pictured (L-R). Stacy Rios (director of BBBS) and Henry Siemer (Siemer Milling)

Funding will be used to support current programs and help rrecruit new volunteers. Mid-Illinois Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) currently has 107 children waiting for a caring adult mentor. Their goal is to keep children connected, without waiting. During the pandemic, they have seen a 40% drop in volunteer requests and are eager to bring volunteers back into programming. “…as we continue to bounce back from the COVID-19 crisis, the funding will help us fill the existing gap in our planned budget to continue providing our valuable services to our youth, families and community. In 2021, we were unable to hold in-person fundraising events. We hope to return to our live fundraisers in February 2022 with our annual Glo-Bingo and April 2022 with our Bowl for Kids’ Sake,” says Stacey Rios.

$2,500 grant to local scouts

Pictured (LR): Noah Olson (Boy Scouts) and Henry Siemer (Siemer Milling)

The funding will be used for 13 “Camperships” summer camps of young people participating in local scouts. BSA Scouts is a neighborhood and outdoor-focused program for boys and girls ages 11-18. It emphasizes leadership, autonomy, civic participation and sustainable values. Scouts take turns in leadership roles, set the troop’s schedule and, with adult guidance, run its meetings. They earn badges for service to others and personal achievement. Scouting teaches young people many skills associated with leadership, including communication, teamwork, responsibility and decision-making. Additionally, they learn to be part of a team to accomplish tasks and goals and are allowed to learn and fail in a safe environment with their peers.

$20,000 to the Effingham Child Development Center

Pictured (L-R) Jordan Koerner (Board Member), Rochelle French (ECDC Director), Daphne Gullett (Siemer Milling) and Bri Hilliard (Board Member)

The funding will be used for the “Lights On Afterschool” and “Summer Camp” programs, which are invaluable programs offered by ECDC and intended to ensure that all children have access to affordable, quality after-school programs. ECDC highlights the achievements of school-aged children by offering a mix of academic and developmental skills building activities. All children enjoy a healthy snack, help with homework and enjoy the camaraderie between other children and staff. The center encourages student-created and student-directed activities such as skits, dance, music, and poetry. Children develop a sense of community by helping to plan, organize and participate in ECDC fundraisers. Some activities include yoga, basketball, wall painting, board games and more!

$5,000 to Effingham Public Library

Pictured (L-R) Johnna Schultz (Effingham Library) and Amanda Rieman (Siemer Milling)

Funding will be used for the Safe Sitter program. Child care, or child care, has long been a basic income for tweens and older teens in rural communities.
These lessons provided the solid foundation of skills that many Safe Sitter graduates still use today as they raise their own children and perhaps continue to care for children at home or as staff. child care in our community. In conjunction with HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital, Effingham Public Library is bringing the Safe Sitter Program back to the Effingham area. Effingham Public Library will be hosting Safe Sitter sessions at the library in 2022. With the successful completion of this grant, 90 new childcare providers will be available to families in our community – and if they provide safe and responsible care for just ten infants, toddlers or young children in just one year – this grant will meet the needs of 900 young children.

$19,000 at The Study Shoppe 2021-2022

Pictured (L-R) Katie Siemer (Siemer Milling), Tammy Meinhart (Chair of the Board) and Nancy Marschewski (Executive Director)

The funding will support the operation of the Study Shoppe, a free after-school program for Effingham junior and senior students. Covid has created many different learning hurdles for students in the community to overcome. The Study Shoppe wants the young people in this community to know that there are people who care about them and their education and they want to reach out to those students and plant the seeds of faith and academic success. The Meinhart family started this program 5 years ago with personal funds. They chose this location because of its easy access to middle and high school. The location is accessible to students who need the program the most. Hours of operation allow working parents and those who may need the Shoppe to stay open a little longer to accommodate their schedules.

$3,000 at the Ballard Nature Center

Pictured (LR) Karan Greuel (Executive Director, Ballard Nature Center) and Henry Siemer (Siemer Milling)

The Ballard Nature Center will use the funding to expand its summer programs to include lessons in environmental stewardship for older children. Nature Center programs help children connect with nature by allowing them to freely explore nature. Ballard Nature Center believes spending time in nature is so important to children’s mental and physical well-being. “Children also realize during our programs that being in nature can be very enjoyable and stimulating. We will provide older children with microscopes, nets and other equipment to provide plenty of opportunity for hands-on learning and exploration. We will also include more environmental stewardship lessons in our field visit programs,” says Karan Gruel.

$8,624 to East Side Effingham Unit 40 Preschool

(Photo from left to right) Christy Jones, Jennifer Hall, Bernice Shabbing, Amanda Reiman (Siemer Milling), Micaela Chrappa, Rene Green, Jennifer Fox

East Side Preschool has grown significantly over the past 2 years at the expense of Effingham Unit 40. Funding will be used to provide daily milk to each student during their snack break. In order to develop physically and academically to become future leaders, young children should drink milk daily as it provides calcium and vitamin D to help with brain development, dental health, immune health and bone strength. By incorporating milk into their daily routine, preschool students will also learn the importance of milk and the general health benefits of milk. During the milk break, students will work on their fine motor skills by opening milk cartons. Although it may seem insignificant, strong fine motor skills lead to independence and provide an authentic opportunity to apply social skills.

The Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation was formed in 2009 from a merger between Effingham County Community Foundation (founded in 1999) and Mattoon Area Community Foundation (founded in 1980). The Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that manages permanent and nonpermanent assets for the long-term benefit of communities in Southeastern Illinois.


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