In the fall, Jess Wilson and Kathy Stein, from our Gerber Education Program, applied for, and were awarded, a $500 grant through the CU Schools Foundation for a greenhouse. Gardening has become a hugely popular activity for the youth at Cunningham. That’s right, just like many of you, our kids like to get their hands dirty and grow some vegetables and flowers!


"Already this year, our middle school kids have started their seeds and are working on composting," Kathy said. "Our elementary program has already grown and sprouted lima beans to make some lima bean starts. I get called to classrooms probably every other day to come check on them. They’re so excited. Once the starter plants are moved outdoors to the boxes, our kids will spend time during recess to check on them. They advocate all day long for these plants during the growing season."

The grant funds are enough for a 4 x 6 feet greenhouse and would provide a bit more space to grow plants for a longer period; however, it would not be spacious enough for more than a couple gardeners to work at a time. To provide all Gerber students the opportunity to participate, a bigger structure is needed. Students in our CIRCLE Academy-Urbana and CIRCLE Academy-Vermilion education programs also enjoy gardening and have boxes on their campuses. With such a high interest among our nearly 200 youth in our residential and education programs, expanded gardening resources and supplies would provide wonderful opportunities and valuable benefits to their overall growth.  


Our month of March campaigns—which coincide with March Madness—have allowed us to meet a Cunningham need in fun and creative ways. And what we’ve learned along the way is you just never really know what resonates with people and touches their heart! 

In 2021's March Freshness campaign, you raised funds to help restock our shelves with personal hygiene items as personal hygiene is an important life skill our kids learn while they are in our care. In 2022's March Mattress campaign, you helped raise money for the purchase of much-needed mattresses and sleep packages to create restful sleep routines for our kids.