TDC Learning Centers and Oral Health Kansas are the most recent recipients of the Joe and Janet Aleshire Venture Grant administered by United Way of Greater Topeka. The grant program is designed to acquaint Washburn University leadership students with philanthropic opportunities and their future civic responsibilities while providing investments for programs addressing early childhood development (prenatal to age six). Washburn University Leadership Institute students Kassidy Forshey, Natalie Montney, Maci Hagelgantz and Ryan Kelly comprised the Bods United team which determined this year’s grant awards.
The Bods United team issued a request for proposal to local agencies serving children and then reviewed grant applications to determine which applications should be funded. TDC Learning Centers, Inc. received $3,740 for a parent education literacy initiative which will build home libraries, provide teacher training and parent/child music therapy groups. A grant of $3,760 will help the Oral Health Kansas partner with a Shawnee County early childhood home visiting program to introduce families to Brush Book Bed, an initiative from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The goal is to increase the number of families that practice tooth brushing and reading before bed for better health and word acquisition.
Joe Aleshire is a former United Way of Greater Topeka board chairman. He and his wife, Janet, have been generous long-time supporters of United Way and have provided financial support for this program since 2008.This program gives students the opportunity to gain exposure to community organizations focused on early childhood development, develop their roles as servant leaders, and engage in group planning and decision making.
The Aleshire Venture Grant Program is a project offered to students in LE300, one of the Washburn core leadership courses. Students focus on developing individual and interpersonal leadership skills, teamwork and collaboration skills and an understanding that leadership is more than the exercise of power. Techniques for embracing and leading change are practiced in a semester-long change project.
Upon finishing this project students often talk about the experience as life-changing. United Way is grateful to be a partner in this innovative opportunity with Washburn University and the Aleshires.