At the recent Staszak Annual Gala, we announced the results of our Call for Ideas, the first in six years. The “Call” brought in 78 excellent ideas plus some great feedback from nearly 1,000 of our middle schoolers. The OPEF staff and Board – made up of community members, parents, teachers, and District 97 leaders – carefully reviewed all of the ideas.

Each of the proposals submitted was subjected to “blind reviews”; that is, submitters’ names and/or organizations were deleted and every proposal was scored by each participant across seven criteria. Then the top-rated ideas were discussed extensively and matched against the overall mission of OPEF until the group determined a clear winner: SPOKEN WORD.

We chose Spoken Word because of its potential for significant, positive impact on District 97 kids. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • It’s transformative, empowering kids, giving them a voice
  • It’s new and exciting for D97 kids
  • It provides opportunities for connections to the curriculum, to the high school, to community members and outside competitions
  • It’s inclusive, attracting kids of diverse backgrounds, and can be tailored to kids of any age
  • It broadens the OPEF portfolio of programs

A program development committee is now at work hammering out the how, who, what, where, when of launching Spoken Word in District 97, targeting the 2015-16 school year.

The Oak Park Education Foundation extends a big THANK YOU for the community’s wonderful response to our Call for Ideas. Seed funding for the launch of Spoken Word has been provided by the Peter Traczyk Innovation Fund.