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November 9, 2023

Consolidated Communications Endowment for Economic Development and Community Leaderships Grants Awarded

Pictured L – R, Kristen Bertrand, Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation, Program Officer, Stacey Rios, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Executive Director, Shelly Romack, Consolidated Communications Representative, Jean Mertz, ClassE student from Charleston, Vinny Walk, ClassE Instructor

(Mattoon, Illinois – November 8, 2023) The Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation recently announced the recipients of the Consolidated Communications Endowment for Economic Development and Community Leadership grant. The recipients include Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Illinois and ClassE in Mattoon administered through the regional cooperative school district, Eastern IL Education for Employment System 340.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Illinois received $1,000 to assist training staff, volunteers, littles and families. Stacey Rios, Executive Director stated, “All staff are currently trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid. We are looking to improve the physical and mental well-being of our Littles and bring educational opportunities to them, their families, and our volunteers. The problem area our mentoring programs address is reducing mental health barriers through one-to-one mentoring. We seek funding to support 33 mentoring relationships of Coles County youth ages 5 – 13. Youth are referred to BBBS by local service providers, Division of Child Protection & Permanency, school personnel, or parents/guardians.”

ClassE received full funding of their request for $2,400 to be used to purchase items that can help students develop ideas for starting their businesses as a final project for this program. Each student is tasked with writing their business plan, seeking feedback on the plan, and physically creating the business before the end of the school year. This grant in particular helps fund equipment that is too costly for the class and individual students to initially purchase. The goal is to encourage students to build upon the knowledge and skills obtained in this class and to own, operate or contribute to successful businesses activity within this community.

The Consolidated Communications Endowment for Economic Development and Community Leadership is a fund of the Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation. Grants provide support to organizations that contribute to building workforce skills, encouraging entrepreneurship, or enhancing the environment for business development in Coles County. For more information, contact Kristen Bertrand, Program Officer, at 217.342.5413 or

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