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2021 Thrive! Celebrating Student Success & Stakeholder Impact

On Friday, November 12, 2021, Seeds of Literacy held its fourth *Thrive* luncheon event. Nearly 150 attendees filled the ballroom at the Union Club of Cleveland.

For Seeds, it was the first in-person event in nearly 2 years. Things looked a little bit different.

The event was made possible by these generous supporters, and a few who chose to remain anonymous.

Mark Rychel Designer Portraits provided in-kind support as the event photographer and the *Thrive* Tree design was created in 2018 by volunteer Jim Van Hise of Kuno Creative.

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Seeds East student Jack'ee Johnson took the stage to share her journey toward the GED.

Because of a last minute cancellation, her son was able to attend and see just how many people support her incredible success.

Tutor Bruce Kowlaski spoke next on education as an investment, sharing two anecdotes about students he's tutored.

Their speeches were streamed live (and recorded). You can watch the video on our event page.

After hearing from Jack'ee and Bruce, it was time to meet this year's Cultivator Impact Award Recipient.

Bill Litzler, the very first recipient of the award (2018), provided the introduction.

The 2021 Cultivator Impact Award Recipient: Rich Clark!

Rich's name is synonymous with education in Cleveland.

His newest venture is bringing the Partnership School model to Cleveland.

Rich's efforts to educate children have the potential to eliminate the need for Seeds for future generations!

"But that time is a long way away," he said as he urged guests to donate as a show of support for adult education for students like Jack'ee.

Executive Director Bonnie Entler then presented Rich with the 2021 Cultivator Impact award, recognizing a stakeholder whose contributions are so significant that students don't just grow, they THRIVE.

The Clark family was there to support him.

Chairman of the Board, Jonathan Khouri, has tutored in the classroom at Seeds for 5 years. Although there is much to celebrate in the classroom, he wanted to raise attention to the ongoing NEED.

"Very little government support and relief funds have been directed to adult education, leaving Seeds of Literacy largely reliant on philanthropic contributions to achieve its mission. While we continue to advocate for increases in federal, state, and local investments, that is a longer-term solution. Educating the more than 50,000 Clevelanders without a high school diploma is an immediate, critical need."

Jonathan closed by introducing a speaker not listed on the program: Virtual Classroom Coordinator Todd Seabrook.

Todd explained that the GED is comprised of 4 tests: Reading Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, and Science. With a voucher from the state, each test is $10 for students.

He asked the audience to read a story in the program about a homeless student who almost didn't graduate due to the cost of the exam. More than 88% of Seeds students live at or below the federal poverty level, so this happens a lot.

Fortunately, the staff of Seeds is unwilling to let cost stand in the way of success, often paying for the tests out of their own pockets.

And then, auctioneer style, he asked guests how many tests each wanted to purchase.

MORE THAN 800 TESTS SECTIONS WERE PURCHASED BY GENEROUS GUESTS!

We never anticipated this level of response! THANK YOU!

We are so grateful to all of our guests,

our speakers Bruce, Jack'ee, and our honoree Rich,

and of course, our generous sponsors...

for making this

the MOST SUCCESSFUL FUNDRAISER in SEEDS HISTORY!