Junior League investing in elementary school

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — At Cone Elementary School in Greensboro, a low-income school that receives Title 1 federal funding, over 96 percent of students qualify for lunch that is free or at a reduced price.

In 2012, only 45.7 percent of its students showed proficiency on end-of-grade tests for reading, math and science combined, the lowest ranking among all Guilford County elementary schools.

To help address the challenges facing Cone Elementary, the Junior League of Greensboro on June 1 will begin devoting all its community giving, including funding and volunteers, to the school.

For each of the past three years, the Junior League has contributed roughly $50,000 to eight to  10 nonprofits to help address the basic needs of families.

For the coming year, it expects to invest over $60,000 in Cone Elementary.

That effort, which is expected to continue at least through May 2014, initially will focus on an initiative, through the school’s recently reconstituted parent teacher association after years of inactivity, designed to engage parents in the educational process; a literacy initiative that will focus on books and reading; school day programs designed to generate excitement in learning; programs that address basic needs; and efforts to support teachers.

A key goal is to make all those efforts “sustainable,” says Emily Faucher, a former assistant district attorney for Guilford County who is serving this year as the League’s president, a full-time volunteer position.

The League this year also is celebrating its 85th anniversary, and from April 20 through May 5 will host its third ShowHouse, which will feature the Adamsleigh estate, which was completed in 1930, and will benefit the initiative at Cone Elementary.

Formed in 1928, the Junior League grew out of the Greensboro Charity League, which was formed in 1926 by a  group of women organized by the late Kathleen Price Bryan, the daughter of Julian Price, who was CEO of Jefferson Standard Life Insurance Co., and the wife of Joseph M. Bryan, who was the company’s senior vice president.

The Junior League operates with an annual budget of over $600,000, including $400,000 it generates from its Bargain Box thrift store in downtown Greensboro.

One of 11 Junior Leagues in North Carolina, the Greensboro Junior League includes 360 active members who each typically volunteers at least three hours a month at organizations the League supports with funding.

The League also includes nearly 700 “sustaining” members.

Projects the League is considering at Cone Elementary include working with parents to boost their children’s literacy; getting parents more involved in the school; collecting books and other supplies for teachers; and supporting feeding and clothing programs for children and their families.

The ShowHouse, which the League hosts every four years, aims to raise over $300,000, Faucher says.

It will kick off with a patron gala on April 19 at the 15,000-square-foot, 13.5-acre estate, and will be open to the public for tours from April 20 through May 5, featuring designs for its more than 33 rooms created by local designers, as well as national designers secured by Traditional Home magazine, national media sponsor for the event.

All the funds raised will support the League’s initiative with Cone Elementary.

“We know we will support this school for at least two years,” Faucher says.

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