Forrest Turpen, CEAI’s Executive Director from 1983–2003, advocated tirelessly for the religious freedoms of both educators and students in America’s public schools and championed the love of Christ spreading through Christian educators like you.
My relationship with Forrest began when he personally visited my husband, David’s classroom in 2002 to pray with him and recruit him to encourage other teachers advising Christian clubs. Forrest continued encouraging and mentoring educators right up to the time he graduated into heaven in December 2017. Now, as David and I travel around the country meeting CEAI friends and family, we continue to hear stories of how Forrest cheered on the God-given dreams of educators and CEAI staff.
Two years ago, CEAI established the Forrest Turpen Legacy Grant to honor Forrest’s legacy. More than 100 CEAI members from 30 states and Germany, (where we have a CEAI member serving in a U.S. Department of Defense Dependent School), have submitted grant requests, detailing their dreams for impacting their schools for Christ. We are pleased to announce that in the first two years of this grant program, we’ve been able to award 22 grants for a total of almost $10,000 thanks in part to generous donors, including Forrest’s wife Judy and his family.
These grants can and have profoundly impacted school communities in so many different ways. For example, one member received grant funds to purchase new Bibles for a Released Time Education program, replacing the 20-year-old, worn original Bibles. Another member saw a need in his district and received grant money to fund a teacher-training workshop focusing on ways to help children dealing with trauma. The possibilities are limitless when thinking creatively.
Here’s a sampling of grants that have been awarded:
- Sweatshirts for a high school Christian club and supplies for a student-led campus outreach
- Bibles, tracts, and wordless bracelets to share with a middle school Christian club
- Funds for events and teacher gifts requested by a teacher who is already hosting a teacher prayer group in her building and has plans to expand throughout her district
- Transportation costs for student clubs to attend the Ark Encounter (admission was already free)
- Kitchen set-up for a special education teacher in order to add life skills training and relationship-building time for her students
- Class set of novels that teach dignity for all for a language arts teacher
- Portable PA system with microphone for Christian club rallies and events (their school system is not always available or reliable)
- Sports Bibles and t-shirts for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes club reaching their campus for Christ
- Good News Club curriculum for current after school club meeting in housing projects
- Workshop for training teachers how to legally incorporate faith into lessons
- Bibles, books, lanyards, stickers, and outreach materials for a high school Christian club in an underserved rural location
- Wobble cushions for ADHD students
- Chess sets and classic literature for an after school program in a rural area where no other options currently exist
- Transportation costs for an entire sixth-grade class to attend their local Holocaust museum
- Curriculum and supplies to teach a previously approved Bible as Literature course
Do you dream of impacting your school for Christ? Do you see a need in your district? Perhaps the Forrest Turpen Legacy Grant could provide the solution. Here are some tips to consider when writing a grant request:
- Be specific and include actual price information. For example, if you are looking to do an outreach with the Christian club you advise, give details about your plan with specific price points for the items you will purchase if you are selected. If you are hoping to boost your classroom or library with books filled with Christ-like characters, list specific titles and prices and be sure your library will accept the gift. The more specific the request, the better we can evaluate your request! Grants are awarded up to $500. But, keep in mind, no requested amount is too small.
- Share your compelling motivation for requesting a grant. For example, one member writes, “I strive every day to shine the light of God in whatever I do and say. This past fall, after doing my research and finally getting up the nerve, I left the teacher’s union. I am the only teacher in the school to leave, and I am so very grateful to be a member of CEAI. In organizing this project, I want the staff to be assured that even though I have left the union, my passion for the students is just as strong as ever.”
If your proposal is not awarded a grant, don’t be discouraged. While CEAI’s grant funds are limited, God is not! Other Christians may be praying for opportunities to fund God’s work in your community—they are just waiting for you to present the opportunity to them. For example, maybe your local church or small group Bible study would like to sponsor t-shirts and outreach materials for your Christian club. Or perhaps you would like to sponsor a teacher appreciation breakfast, a teacher’s lounge spruce up, or another blessing for your school staff. In Fort Collins, Colorado, one member reached out to her local Moms in Prayer group to sponsor a teacher appreciation breakfast at her local church. The opportunities for both ministry on our campuses and teaming with others for the necessary resources are endless.
Together, let’s keep praying and funding God-inspired ways to impact our schools for Christ!
Elizabeth Schmus has a B.A. in English from Pepperdine University and an M.A. in Educational Leadership from Biola University. She currently serves CEAI alongside David, her husband of 28 years. While she’s taught elementary to college professionally in public and private schools, her favorite teaching assignment is homeschooling their three daughters.
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