CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation has received a $100,000 gift from Robert and Sondra Libman of Champaign for its CU Scholars program, which it expects to use in local middle schools and develop a financial reward for students completing the program.
It is among the largest single gifts the foundation has received, Executive Director Gail Rost said.
C-U Scholars, now in its third year, requires its students to take classes more rigorous than the state requires, keep their grades and attendance up, and volunteer in the community. They also participate in what the program calls "mandatory enrichment," which includes education on financial literacy, career exploration and entrepreneurship.
It's for students at Urbana High School, Central High School and Centennial High School.
Rost said she expects the program to move to the middle schools in a broad sense, although the foundation is still figuring out how it might work.
"Working with both school districts, we actually have opportunities for enrichment throughout the middle school years," Rost said, adding that it's possible the enrichment will be available for all students while preparing them to join C-U Scholars as ninth-graders.
"What we're finding is that each school district ... wants to do things a little differently," Rost said. "One of the things we can do as an organization is tweak the process so we can customize it for the schools."
The goal would be to introduce concepts of academic rigor, financial literacy, volunteerism in a consistent way to students at an earlier age, Rost said.
The foundation may also use money from the Libmans' gift may also set up what Rost calls a "financial award" for students who complete the C-U Scholars program.
C-U Scholars is now enrolling students going into ninth and 10th grades at Champaign and Urbana High Schools. Students can enroll at school registration, but if they didn't at that time, they can also register online or by seeing their guidance counselor.
The program also has a new website, http://www.cuscholars.org.
"Every ninth-grader is encouraged to enroll," Rost said. "We really want them to be a part of the process, and it's not too late for 10th-graders."
The program has more than 700 students enrolled.