It's a treat to see your organization's name illuminated in the marquee lights of New York City.

It's even more fulfilling when the efforts of that organization outshine even the brightest lights on Broadway.

Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi was recently honored at the Education Innovation Awards presented by EVERFI, Inc. at the Nasdaq Marketsite in New York City.

The award recognizes the Foundation’s exceptional efforts to strengthen communities and empower students through unique digital learning opportunities. Twenty institutions were honored with this distinction at a ceremony hosted on June 12.

Honorees were selected based on a set of criteria that included the scale and impact of their digital education initiatives as well as unique student engagement and employee volunteering activities that supplement their programs. The Foundation’s Community Digital Scholars program this year involved 25 percent of the 4th-12th grade public school students in its 11-county region. The largest number engaged with the financial literacy segment and, on average, increased their knowledge of personal finance by 91 percent.

“Education is one of the main causes that matters to the Community Foundation’s mission. From our earliest successful efforts to place internet-accessible computers in all of Mississippi public classrooms, we have used technology to improve education,” said Community Foundation President Tom Pittman. “We appreciate this national recognition of our efforts.”

Since it began with a pilot in Hernando High School in 2010, the Community Digital Scholars program has helped 89,412 students in Northwest Mississippi learn valuable life skills such as personal finance, digital responsibility, and prevention of substance abuse. The web-based program uses the latest in simulation and gaming technologies.

The generosity of a donor who wishes to remain anonymous enables the foundation to provide the Community Digital Scholars program to students at 80 schools with no cost to schools or taxpayers.

This year students in Center Hill High School, Hernando High School, Hernando Middle School, Lake Cormorant High School, Lake Cormorant Middle School, Olive Branch High School, Olive Branch Middle School, DeSoto Central High School, Lewisburg High School, Lewisburg Middle School, Southaven High School, Southaven Middle School, Horn Lake High School, Walls Elementary School and DeSoto County Alternative Center participated in the Community Digital Scholars program.

Board members of the Community Foundation from DeSoto County include Rev. Bartholomew Orr, Wilbert Corley, Wayne Godwin, Lillian Hilson, Scott Burnham Hollis, Mat Lipscomb, Colie Sanford and Danny Williams.

The Community Foundation manages 235 donor-established funds and has distributed $18.3 million to support more than 420 charitable organizations and activities recommended by its donors, as well as charitable programs established by the foundation. Established in 2002 with a generous grant from the Maddox Foundation, the Community Foundation is an independent 501.c.3 charitable organization.

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