Communities Foundation of Oklahoma Blog


Communities Foundation of Oklahoma

Communities Foundation of Oklahoma
Communities Foundation of Oklahoma
Communities Foundation of Oklahoma's Blog

By Communities Foundation of Oklahoma / December 11, 2017

Oklahoma A+ Schools Unlocks the Learning in Every Child

Oklahoma A+ Schools, by being in the business of helping schools to think, plan, and behave more creatively, truly changes the lives of Oklahoma children.

Kylie’s story is one example of the impact OKA+ is making. Kylie was a new student who felt behind since 2nd grade. Coming from a broken home, she was moving into a new school and entering an OKA+ classroom below grade level in her reading and math ability. After 5 months of being in her new creative surroundings, Kylie was given a research project on the American Revolution. Her teacher was concerned about her ability to handle the reading levels that would be required to be successful. However, the teacher knew she had to trust the OKA+ process, which allows for creativity and students demonstrating understanding in multiple ways. Kylie’s teacher said, “I was right to do so!  Kylie owned the project and never looked back. She embraced the freedom to use her artistic ability, created a beautiful presentation board, and helped other students succeed as well. Through the process, she also learned to love the poetry of Phillis Wheatley.”

Thanks to the OKA+ model, Kylie improved in math and moved from a 3rd grade reading level to middle 4th grade reading level in five months. Once a failing student, Kylie is now an above average student who found self-confidence, passion, and a desire to do hard things. Her disposition has transformed!

OKA+ Schools provides an academics + arts model of education that is founded on eight essentials.  This is what helps students, like Kylie, succeed. Research has shown that one of the most important factors for student success is having a highly trained teacher facilitating their learning. OKA+ is dedicated to providing quality professional development to schools, so that every student has the opportunity of success

With a donation, OKA+ Schools can continue to train Oklahoma’s teachers and provide access to educational resources with zero cost passed on to schools or districts. The power to adapt, think creatively and change quickly will determine the success of Oklahoma’s future. OKA+ Schools is helping schools to cultivate and impact Oklahoma’s greatest resource, our children. OKA+ Schools wants to thank you for imagining a better education and a better life for every child in Oklahoma.

For 15 years, OKA+ has served 300,000 students and 20,000 educators in rural, urban, and suburban Oklahoma.  Rich or under-resourced; OKA+ Schools advance learning and student success in core subjects in public, private and charter schools.


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By Communities Foundation of Oklahoma / November 29, 2017
Help Friends for Folks spread the power of "changing lives by helping others" with your gift to our Newman's Own Holiday Challenge.

A matching gift from Paul Newman's foundation is possible if you will help Friends for Folks raise $10,000 in this Challenge.

  • How does Friends for Folks spread the power of "changing lives by helping others?"
    Imagine you are a dog who has never known kindness, sitting in a shelter, knowing you will never be adopted and that your next stop is euthanasia. 
  • Imagine you are a prisoner who has never made a positive contribution to society, sitting in a correctional facility with no hope for your future. 
  • Imagine you are a veteran with PTSD, a frail elderly individual, or someone suffering mental health challenges, feeling isolated from society. 

Now, imagine a program that allows the power of helping others to positively change the lives of the dog, the prisoner, and the special needs individual. That program is Friends for Folks, a highly successful Oklahoma initiative that allows prisoners in our men's and women's correctional facilities to train abandoned and abused dogs as companion animals for special needs men and women. 


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By Communities Foundation of Oklahoma / November 28, 2017

Thank you for helping the Regional Food Bank provide nutritious meals for hungry Oklahomans. Your support will ensure our community’s most vulnerable children, families and seniors have access to vital, healthy food this fall and all year long.

And thanks to a special $600,000 holiday matching challenge from, the Cresap Family Foundation, and Chesapeake Energy Corporation, all gifts made to the Regional Food Bank between now and January 15 will DOUBLE to provide twice as many meals for our hungry neighbors, until we reach a matched total of $1.2 million. That’s enough to provide 6 million meals to our hungry neighbors!

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By Communities Foundation of Oklahoma / November 17, 2017
Pets Helping People, founded in 2009, provides incarcerated women with the skills they need for a lucrative career in the pet industry. Women learn to become a certified kennel tech, bather/brusher, groomer or office manager. Since our founding, nearly 200 women have graduated and 93% are still working in the grooming industry. Graduates earn certificates through the International Professional Groomers Association to ensure they are qualified for jobs. Today, 93% of our graduates are still working in the grooming industry. Certified pet care workers can earn nearly $30,000 their first year alone, which only increases over time.

The self-sufficiency and pride that comes with employment makes a difference: The Oklahoma Department of Corrections reports the state recidivism rate for women is 13.3%, yet among our graduates, it is less than five percent! The Oklahoma Department of Corrections and Oklahoma Career Tech have publicly praised PHP as the "best program of its kind" because it is proving to reduce recidivism rates. PHP is helping end the inter-generational cycle of poverty and incarceration that has become all too common in Oklahoma.

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By Communities Foundation of Oklahoma / October 26, 2017

Our Mission:  Cultivating peace, healing and renewal in a contemplative, interspiritual environment.
Our Purpose:  Spreading peace, healing and renewal to all corners of the Earth.
For 30 years, the Forest of Peace has welcomed guests from all across the U.S. and other countries, offering a tranquil refuge for those seeking to go deeper into spirit, healing, and peace of mind and heart. Since 2010, the Forest has been governed by an interfaith board of directors to meet a compelling need for people to experience oneness, acceptance, and understanding. Marginalized people let go of trauma related to illness, religion or gender and find new ways of being through centering prayer and silent meditation. People who are content in their own faith traditions find depth, assurance, and peace within a diversity of beliefs. As visitors experience their own peace and healing, they take that back into the world as a model of how to live in sacred space amidst life’s turmoil.
The Forest of Peace has a long history, beginning in 1977, when a Benedictine nun from Oklahoma was inspired to search for the basic truths at the core of all religions. This quest took her to India, where she lived at an ashram, established by an English monk and known as a center of Hindu-Christian dialogue. In 1979 the Benedictine Sisters purchased 40 wooded acres in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, and created a sacred place of prayer and meditation, which they named the Osage+Monastery Forest of Peace, reflecting deep respect for the Osage Indians of Oklahoma. Our small resident community continues to embody our founder’s original vision of hospitality and a simple lifestyle for all those who seek to deepen, renew and nurture their spiritual practice.
Five program areas include:

1. mindfulness education and contemplative practice
2. mental health and addiction
3. interfaith connection and dialogue
4. caretaker (therapists, clergy, nurses) support
5. veteran and family member support

Feedback over the years has reinforced how powerful even a two-day weekend can be in transforming lives. A participant in a 2013 Veterans’ Families Retreat writes: 
“This was an awesome experience. The introduction to self-care techniques was very helpful. I had heard of many of the techniques but had not truly experienced them. I loved the guided imagery, meditation and yoga. The healing touch made me feel better than I have in years - centered, calm and in control. We also learned that we are not alone, through telling our personal stories about the signs, symptoms and behaviors of PTSD--the reality of the disease. The kindness and sharing from these phenomenal people in itself was very beneficial. The Osage Forest of Peace is an ideal location, providing a sense of serenity, calmness and beauty many of us have forgotten. Walking the forest trails allowed me to be part of the God's portrait and enjoy the beauty of the world we live in. Thank you for being there and sharing such a beneficial healing journey.” 

Others write: “One of my most valued gifts during my chemotherapy was from a friend who suggested I visit the Forest of Peace. I spent two bright crisp fall days there; it was exactly what I needed. I walked for hours on the trails, sat in the Zen garden, attended a meditation session in the chapel and meandered through the outdoor labyrinth. I was invited to a wonderful lunch, perused the spiritual library, wrote in my journal and rocked in silence. The staff gave me the space I yearned for while simultaneously helping me feel welcome and safe. This was a place I could just "be" without the demands and interruptions of my everyday life. After hours of this peacefulness, I began to let go of the some of the stresses that I had been carrying. I literally felt a healing energy running through me. With a clearer head, I could deal with the realities of my situation with a new perspective.”  

“Peace has always been an illusion to many, including myself. I have found, through my pain and suffering, an opportunity to engage in my journey in a deeper and more meaningful way, and discover that this peace we all desire is within us. The Forest of Peace, and her loving brothers and sisters, have been a part of that journey to healing and peace. I pray that you may experience the beauty, peace, meditation and love that the Forest offers as you travel on your journey of spiritual, physical, mental and emotional peace.”

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