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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

OUR AMERICAN VOICE® Springfield Summit Celebrates Students' Civic Engagement


OUR AMERICAN VOICE®, a model civics leadership program for elementary and middle school aged students will host its 9th Annual Summit in Springfield, Illinois on May 2, 2017.  Over 250 students representing 23 schools from urban and rural communities across the state of Illinois are expected to attend.  The purpose of the Summit is to share and celebrate their success and accomplishments. 

The OAV students are eager to share their projects with each other, meet their legislators and tour the capitol in Springfield. However, due to the cost of transportation, meals, etc they need your financial support and have created a GO FUND ME page.

The OAV program sponsored by the Barat Education Foundation teaches students the four core principles of civic engagement and gets them immersed in working on projects that matter to them, their school and community.  These school initiatives completed in collaboration with community agencies and elected officials include: Cleaning and beautifying their community center; Creating a Safety program for their school; Implementing a tutoring program for students; Installing filters in all school water fountains; Purchasing a handicap ramp for school library stage; Raising $20K to make their playground handicap accessible; Setting up a free library for students in lower grades; and Starting a recycling program in their community.  

"Our OAV participants with the guidance and support of their teacher/facilitators have worked diligently to make a difference and to positively impact their communities," says Sheila A. Smith, Barat Education Foundation CEO and Chair. "We are pleased to host this summit to recognize their achievements and contributions as young citizens and are indebted to Edward and Chris Kazemek whose generous donation to the Foundation is helping launch the #OAVsummit2017 GO FUND ME campaign. Our OAV students would appreciate your financial support and help in spreading the word." 

The following schools currently participate  in the OUR AMERICAN VOICE®  program: Emerson, Hiawatha, Irving, Komensky, Pershing and Piper Elementary Schools, Freedom and Heritage Middle Schools in Berwyn;  St. Philip Neri and Robert Healy Elementary, Providence Englewood Charter in Chicago;  Clearview Elementary & Cristo Rey St. Martin  College Prep in Waukegan; Prairie Trail in Wadsworth; Hester Jr. High in Franklin Park; DuBois in Springfield, Riddle in Matoon; Oakwood Jr. High in Danville; Arcola Jr. High ; Lester in Downers Grove; Washington Jr. High in Rock Island, Spenser Crossing Intermediate School in New Lenox; and Littlejohn in Dekalb.

“...knowledge and understanding about our system of government is not something that's handed down in the gene pool. You have to learn it." Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor


To learn more about OAV students and their community projects, visit these websites: OUR AMERICAN VOICE® and OAV Facebook Page 


The Barat Education Foundation is an independent 501(c) (3) organization that develops and seeks support for innovative scholarships and entrepreneurial educational ventures which reflect the deep commitment to: intellectual, spiritual, and ethical values; empowerment of women; social awareness that impels to action; and the building of community.  For further information and/or to help support the BEF, please visit

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