Education stimulus aids alumni

With the economy in such bad shape, it seems everyone has been getting bailouts and stimulus packages. But now, Eastern Michigan University is doing its part to help out their alumni who put education first.

On Jan. 15, the College of Education and Alumni Relations will be drawing the name of an EMU alumnus who now teaches in southeast Michigan, to receive the EMU Education First Stimulus package.

The grand prize is one year’s worth of school supplies valued at $1,000.

“Our working research showed that teachers, especially here in Michigan, no longer had school money to pay for school supplies,” Associate Vice President in the Division of Communication Theodore G. Coutilish said.

“They were reaching into their own pockets to pay for school supplies.”

The eligible teachers were sent letters explaining what the program was, and how to enter. The prizes range from a year’s worth of school supplies, to EMU pencils, pennants and posters and even hand sanitizers.  All that was required to enter the drawing was to respond to a letter via email.

“We sent 13,000 alum in southeast Michigan a letter,” Coutilish said. “The last count we had is 240 responses to the letter, about 2%.” 

While the deadline for the drawing for the big prize is Jan. 15, letter recipients can keep responding so they can reap the benefits of the smaller prizes and discounts at the store Learning Gizmos and access to educational content from WW and WXYZ.

“We didn’t want to just mail out a bunch of posters and flyers and pennants if people didn’t want them,” he said. “But if they respond a few months from now, we have plenty of pencils and hand sanitizer for them.”

So far, teachers who have responded to the program have wanted to take advantage of such an opportunity.

“We’ve had a great reaction to it,” Coutilish said. “People were pleased we weren’t asking them for money, we were giving something to them. Some of them have even asked another university in southeast Michigan why they haven’t done this.

“It’s the right thing to do at the right time,” Coutilish said. “Any time you can give back to your alumni it’s a positive thing.” 

This program is helping educators throughout the area afford not only basic school supplies, but also things that are now classroom necessities, like hand sanitizer.

“We know they don’t have a lot of money in the school system to pay for Purell and teachers are going into their own pockets to keep themselves and students healthy,” he said.

But, for the sponsors of the program, the College of Education and Alumni Relations, the benefits aren’t one way.

“Everybody benefits,” Coutilish said. “One percent of education personnel all over the country come from Eastern, and one-fourth of teachers in Michigan are from Eastern. Anything we can do to reward their efforts, we’re up for it.” 

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