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Community Contribution Award presented to Church Women United

Peoria Public Schools presented its Community Contribution Award to Church Women United (CWU) at the October 28 Board of Education meeting for their financial support of the PPS-Illinois Central College (ICC) D2 program and the Von Steuben Middle School VonSteuBEAN Jolt Café project. 


In presenting the award, Innovation and Grants officer Dr. Susan Grzanich explained, “When we created the D2 program, we knew it was crucial that the opportunity be available to families at no cost. The District pays students’ tuition, but we needed to cover books and fees also. Church Women United stepped up with a generous donation of $55,000 to cover textbooks and fees for the first two years.”

 CWU and D2 students

Three of this year’s D2 cohort, Damilola Adebisi, Owen Homolka and Alijah Smith, spoke at the Board of Education meeting. “The D2 program is helping me meet my goals and giving me two extra years to do that,” Smith said. 


Patti Polk, national president of CWU and a member of the ICC Foundation Board of Directors, accepted the award, saying the organization seeks to promote education in any way it can.

CWU present donation to VSBeanJolt Cafe

Von Steuben Middle School principal Dr. Cindy Lochbaum-Janovetz also recognized CWU for its support for the VonSteuBEAN Jolt Café, through a $5,000 donation.


Initiated during the 2018-2019 by Life Skills teacher Emily Dawson and classroom aide Nichole McLeod, VonSteuBEAN Jolt Café gives students hands-on experience in customer service, job skills, practical math and money skills.


Once a week the VonSteuBEAN Jolt Café serves hot and iced coffees, hot cocoa, hot and cold tea and breakfast and afternoon snacks. Initially, the service was offered just to Von Steuben staff, but expanded this year to the Administration Building staff also.


Students serve as barista preparing orders, deliver orders, make change, keep supplies stocked and clean up the shop. Proceeds for the project offset students’ Community-Based Initiative (CBI) field trips, previously funded by parents and teachers. The donation helps offset start-up costs supplied by Dawson and McLoed and give students the chance to offer espresso and take weekly cooking lessons to expand the café menu.