Communities Foundation of Oklahoma Blog


Communities Foundation of Oklahoma

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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The Heartland Museum, opened in 2007, is governed by the Board of Directors of the Heartland of America Heritage Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit private organization incorporated by the State of Oklahoma in 2001.  The Board of Directors meets monthly.  The Heartland Museum was funded by private donations and one HUD grant.  The museum is operated by volunteers with the assistance of one fulltime SWODA (Southwest Oklahoma Development Authority) senior-citizen employee and two work-study students from the local university.

Weatherford, Oklahoma is a mid-sized progressive town on Interstate 40 about 70 miles west of Oklahoma City.  The Heartland Museum, located on a nine-acre tract (owned by the Museum and paid for in full) on the south interstate frontage road and close to downtown Weatherford, is bordered on the north by Interstate 40 (accessible by Exits 82 and 84), on the south by FarmRail railroad tracks, on the east by a busy city/county road, and on the west by interstate right-of-way.  The main industries in and around Weatherford are agriculture, ranching, oil and gas production, education, retail trade, and more recently, wind energy.  Weatherford is home to Southwestern Oklahoma State University.

The Heartland Museum can best be described as a pioneer history museum.  The artifacts are, for the most part, displayed in booths and cabinets representing the major themes of agriculture, education, family life, Route 66, patriotism/military, transportation, religious faiths, arts and music.  Among the community shops represented inside the main exhibit hall are a general store, drug store/pharmacy, telephone office, barber/beauty shop, medical office, funeral home, and newspaper office.  Diverse minority cultures of the area are represented in the museum's artifacts and exhibits, specifically Native Americans, those of African descent, and German (Mennonite) and Russian settlers.  Free-standing buildings on the museum grounds include an original Route 66 diner, one-room school house, and blacksmith shop.  Among its outreach programs, the museum provides a video wind energy program and visit to a local wind turbine. 

Currently, the Board of Directors of the Heartland of America Museum in Weatherford, Oklahoma is seeking funds to build an annex to shelter and preserve  transportation and farm implement artifacts characteristic of the history and culture of the area.

The exhibit hall of the existing museum has one aisle devoted to transportation and farm implements.  We also have farm implements exhibited outside the building.  Most importantly, numerous other transportation and farm implement artifacts cannot currently be accepted because of lack of space to shelter them properly.  The proposed annex will free up space in the existing climate-controlled building for other exhibits. Architectural/engineering sketches show the proposed annex adjacent to the existing museum building, connected by a wide hallway.  A reliable bid from a local contractor is for $600,000 to construct the annex.  Although the museum operates on a limited budget, approximately $150,000 is held in reserve to apply toward the cost of the annex.  The target year for groundbreaking and start of construction is 2017-2018.

The new annex will be a basic open-warehouse-type metal building with an attractive front facade.  The building will have electricity, ceiling fans, heat, and air conditioning.  Entrance will be through the present museum building, utilizing driveway, parking lot, lobby, admissions office, gift shop, and restrooms of the existing building, thus keeping costs of the annex to a minimum.  The temperature inside the annex will be maintained at a comfortable level, but not strictly climate-controlled as in the present exhibit hall.

Housed in the new building will be a wide assortment of antique cars, trucks, buses, wagons, buggies, bicycles, and possibly a small airplane and a railroad car, plus old tractors and antique farm implements.  With these artifacts displayed in categories of historical sequence, new outreach programs can be developed for children, youth, and adults about the impact of advancing transportation and agricultural technologies on the culture of western Oklahoma.

Learn more by visiting  or contact Janis Lovell, 580.772.0426,



El Sistema Oklahoma 2015 from St. Luke's OKC on Vimeo.


Starting in 2013 as a mission of St. Luke's United Methodist Church in partnership with the Wanda L. Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University, El Sistema Oklahoma has established its own 501(c)(3) status while remaining tightly connected to our original partners.  We extend our scope beyond music achievement to focus on our students' social growth & well-being, utilizing music as the tool to connect with & inspire them to achieve in all areas of their lives.  Instruments, instruction, healthy snacks, academic and social support are all provided without charge to our families.  

El Sistema Oklahoma serves 220 students, in grades 3-8, for the 2015-16 academic year.  These students have daily access to trained musical faculty and volunteers who are invested in their success.  Our students come from 11 metro school sites.  81% of our families qualify for the free/reduced meal program.  Children are not auditioned and do not need any prior musical experience before joining El Sistema Oklahoma. 

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UPDATE:  On October 15, 2016, El Sistema students performed at the University of Oklahoma as part of the halftime celebration.  



By Communities Foundation of Oklahoma / February 24, 2016

“Don’t give up on people like us. Don’t throw in the towel. Just give us a chance—we might surprise you.”
-Savannah*, a participant in OHC's Let's Talk About It, Oklahoma reading and discussion program at Women's FIRSTEP recovery center.

Participants in the reading and discussion program funded by the Oklahoma Humanities Council as part of the Women’s FIRSTEP Work Training Recovery program struggle with drug and alcohol addictions. Most have also suffered physical and emotional abuse.

This acclaimed program brings a humanities scholar to the FIRSTEP facility to inspire discussions on great literature and the human experience. The program enhances the women’s ability to begin productive working lives and re-join their children and families.

“Each night of the reading group, we’re not just girls in rehab,” says Savannah. “We’re with our friends, talking about a book, just being normal. For some of us, it’s been a long time since we were normal. We talk about the things we find in the books that are funny, the things we find that are sad. . . . It’s like we’re in a different world.”

Savannah continues:  “To be able to read and understand, and often read things twice to make sure you get the right understanding -- that requires concentration. As addicts, we really haven’t had that in our lives for some time. Studying for the reading group, it’s you in your bed or outside, just reading and focusing and concentrating. We’re all about changing and becoming new people, fixing ourselves and admitting all that we’ve done wrong. There are so many things in the books we’ve read, like my favorite one, The Color Purple, where you say to yourself, ‘Maybe that works,’ or ‘Maybe that sounds like me, or someone I know,’ and you can take it and adjust and move forward.”

Another participant, Terry*, explains,  “When I came here, my whole purpose was to change, and I can’t do that without broadening my horizons. I was drinking myself to death, and I came here for help. The reading group is something totally different than what I ever would have done. In school, reading was never my thing, ever, but I thought, ‘This is a way to change, right here.’ Now I read and write with intelligence. I have words that I never had before.”

Your support for the Oklahoma Humanities Council brings programs like this to audiences around the state and in your community. Your donation inspires a deeper understanding of the human experience and promotes lifelong learning. You can help create stronger communities and families by sustaining OHC programs like Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma that make a difference in our state.

*The names of the program participants have been changed.

About the Oklahoma Humanities Council

The Oklahoma Humanities Council (OHC) strengthens communities by helping Oklahomans learn about the human experience, understand new perspectives, and participate knowledgeably in civic life. The humanities-disciplines such as history, literature, film studies, ethics, and philosophy-offer a deeper understanding of ourselves and others by confronting us with the questions, values, and meanings of the human experience. As the nonprofit, state partner for the National Endowment for the Humanities, OHC brings people together to explore these ideas through programming and community grants that support book groups, exhibits, film festivals, teacher institutes, and more. OHC engages people in their own communities, providing forums for education, critical thinking, and productive civil discourse.  Learn more

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