IL Masonic Children’s Assistance Fund Donates $5,000 to Jacksonville Public Schools Foundation

By Benjamin Cox on August 18, 2023 at 6:07am

Pictured L-R: Jeremy Coumbes [Harmony Lodge #3 Treasurer], Leslie DeFrates [JPSF Executive Director], Bradley Smith [Harmony Lodge #3 Worshipful Master], and Bob Chipman [President, JPSF Board of Directors]

The Jacksonville Public School’s Foundation Teacher Grant Program is getting a major boost.

Yesterday, the Jacksonville Harmony Lodge #3 presented $5,000 to the Public Schools Foundation from the Illinois Masonic Children’s Assistance Fund as a part of Teacher Grant Program fundraising campaign.

Harmony Lodge #3 Master Bradley Smith says the Illinois Masonic Children’s Fund is a relatively new program that the local lodge was able to petition for on behalf of the school to benefit children who may need special help in the classroom: “This program about 4-5 years old. It’s relatively new. It’s all about giving a hand up to the kids that are in need of special education. We actually have over in Springfield a program for children with dyslexia. If there are folks that are in Jacksonville area that have kids who have been diagnosed with dyslexia, we would love to be able to get them connected to Children’s Dyslexia Center and get them some resources.”

Jacksonville Public Schools Foundation Executive Director Leslie DeFrates says that teachers in the district will now have the opportunity to apply for funds: “In the coming weeks, we will be sending out application information to the teachers and they will have usually around the end of November to submit applications. Those will then be reviewed and selected for award. The awards are either $250, $500, or $1,000.”

DeFrates says last year the fund was able to purchase special pens to help with the district’s reading program: “A number of things could be funded. One of the things that was funded last year was the reading pens which help our special education students read independently. They use the pen to guide them through the books and it then reads to them so they don’t have to ask questions.”

DeFrates says the donation this year is the largest from an outside entity so far in the history of the Teacher Grant Program: “This is the largest outside funded matching gift that we have received for this particular program. In previous years, prior to last year, the average that was raised for the Teacher Grant Program was $4,000 per year. We set a goal last year of $10,000 and achieved that with a matching gift from the Foundation. This year, thanks to the Illinois Masonic Children’s Assistance Fund and Harmony Lodge #3, we’ve been able to get that $5,000 matching gift from an outside entity. We’re so appreciative of that.”

The Illinois Masonic Children’s Assistance Fund serves both lodge programs and individual children in need. To find out more information or if you know a child in need in particular need, call 217-529-8900 extension 222 or email