Organized Movement Inside Academia
The OMIA Foundation was thrilled to “get our hands dirty” in the Holt High School Memorial Garden starting in the summer of 2016. We spent countless hours revitalizing the garden and assembled a team of volunteers who pledged to maintain the beauty of the space in memory of those Holt Rams we’ve lost recently.
The garden improved every month and we prepared it well for Spring 2017. Teachers Steve Potter and Lisa Weise planted 1,440 tulips in the fall!
Brian Stiles, owner of Stiles Landscape and Lansing Gardens, might just be the most enthusiastic and effective fundraising partner that the OMIA Foundation has had the pleasure to work with. Brian has not only participated in our events, he continues to constantly promote our efforts any place that he goes! It is not uncommon for OMIA Foundation Director John Girdwood to get a random text from Stiles describing a new donation that Stiles just obtained during his daily lunch run, through his business partners, or friends who he recruited to support the cause. Stiles is a relentless supporter of the Anderson/Cochran Scholarships and we simply cannot thank him enough!
2014 – 2015
Longtime scholarship supporter Jeremy Barager lost his brother Jason on June 22, 2014. Both the Anderson and Cochran families were very close to the Baragers and Girdwood, along with many golf outing supporters, played baseball with Jason at Holt High School. We immediately recognized Jason at our golf outing in 2014 with a special inscription in a sand bunker at Timber Ridge in East Lansing. Then, we started our “J-Nice Hoops Tournament” in the spring of 2015.
We also started a 5K fun run in Memory of Anthony Harris to take place in conjunction with Holt Hometown Days every year beginning in 2015. The first two years of the J-Nice Hoops Tournament and the Holt Run for Education started slow! We are trying to build both events and gain more partner sponsors to offset the costs of those events. Please contact the OMIA Foundation if you can help support either event with a sponsorship. Simply email OMIAfoundation(at)gmail(dot)com
2011 – 2014
The first four years of the Craig Anderson Annual Golf Outing in Memory of Taylyr Cochran built the scholarship funds into a sustainable program. We were able to move from a year-to-year budget toward a long-term successful effort. We assured recipients of both scholarships that we would see them through for four years of undergraduate studies and convey funds to the students each year at our golf outing. During this time, the scholarship grew to a “four year” scholarship with each student receiving $1,000 per year for four straight years. We committed to distributing $8,000 per year in scholarships to Holt graduates.
2010 – 2011
In our third year of existence, we experienced another heavy loss when Craig Anderson passed away on September 18, 2010. Girdwood knew Craig and his three sons well so it was a natural fit when the Holt Alumni got together to honor Craig’s legacy through a scholarship in his name.
Then, another tragedy struck that winter when Taylyr Cochran died in a car accident on January 30, 2011. The Andersons were family friends with the Cochrans and wanted to honor Taylyr’s legacy through a scholarship in his name.
The families worked together with the OMIA Foundation to establish the Craig Anderson Annual Golf Outing in Memory of Taylyr Cochran to financially support both scholarships.
Although we cannot remember exactly when everything started to happen, there was a time when the OMIA Foundation began to realize that Matthew Smith was making a big impact as a donor to the Anderson/Cochran Scholarship Funds. The Holt Alum was playing in our events, donating above and beyond the entry fees, and connecting us with other individuals who would bring specific in-kind donations like Coca-Cola and Powerade to our J-Nice Hoops Tournament. When we added it up, we saw that Matt had donated thousands of dollars to the cause! We are so thankful for the ongoing social and financial support that Matt has given to the students of Holt High School. We are thrilled to see his philanthropic efforts year after year.
If you’re going to buy something off Amazon, please click here and a portion of your proceeds will go to the Anderson and Cochran Scholarship Funds.
2008 – 2009
Girdwood continued to connect with local preK-5 teachers, offering one hour lesson plans where he would play his guitar in their classrooms, connecting substantive learning objectives with fun musical activities.
This was also the period when a significant loss in the family really impacted the operations of the OMIA Foundation. Girdwood lost his cousin Pam Woll, a medical student in Grenada, to an untimely and unexpected death. The OMIA Foundation distributed our first scholarship in Pam’s memory.
Although the OMIA Foundation shifted our focus to Holt High School, Pam’s parents continue to present the Pam Woll Neuhauser Memorial Scholarship to a Kenton High School student each year.
Holt Alumnus Evan Wilson has been a perennial donor to the Anderson and Cochran Scholarship Funds and continues to increase his involvement in supporting our efforts to get outside movement inside academia. We want to thank Evan for his recent gift of $400 in October 2016. Evan has donated thousands of dollars to the scholarships over the years but this particular donation was unique because he created a new way to donate to the scholarship by contributing a portion of his business referral revenue towards the cause. We are so thankful that Evan chose to think of OMIA Foundation first when being philanthropic in the Holt community. Thanks so much, Evan!
2004 – 2007
In late 2004, State of Michigan Superintendent Tom Watkins wrote “Structural Issues Surrounding Michigan School Funding In the 21st Century,” a memo to Kathleen N. Straus, President of the State Board of Education in Michigan. The report suggested that action was needed to address budget issues related to school funding in Michigan. Mr. Watkins also referred to the 2003 Michigan State University report on Proposal A that suggested changes in school funding have “affected different school districts in different ways.” The Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis, Michigan Department of Treasury, reported in 2002 that “Proposal A cut Michigan taxes by $17 billion from FY 1993 to FY 2003.” Finally, Mr. Watkins pointed out the unfortunate approach historically taken by the legislature, stating “Michigan school funding formulas have been based more on dollars available in the state’s budget than on research regarding what it actually costs to educate a child.”
In 2005, John Girdwood began working for the Michigan House of Representatives and saw firsthand how the legislature appropriated dollars to fund K-12 education. Girdwood realized that there were numerous social forces that impacted local education outcomes. Governmental, religious, and other institutions affect education through structural (e.g. funding) and cultural (e.g. curriculum) mechanisms.
Insitutional forces are strong but individual action can play a role toward improving outcomes for K-12 students! Girdwood decided that it was time for action as he transitioned out of the public sector toward the end of 2007. He was no longer an active change agent within the government as he was now “outside academia.” He wanted to help from outside so he leaned on what he knew best and in the shadows of the late, great Pete Seeger… he grabbed his guitar and started playing. for kids.
You can read our incorporating documents that we submitted to the State of Michigan in 2007 here at this link.
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