A Jacksonville non-profit organization walked away from the Jacksonville City Council meeting a bit disappointed last night. The council, after some short discussion, decided to give the Jacksonville Promise Group $2500 for their scholarship program. The total comes well short of the $10,000 the group was hoping to get in order to receive a Tracy Family matching grant. Dr. Charles Sheaff, President of the Jacksonville Promise, said that he has a hard demonstrating the amount of money that the scholarships students bring in to show the effects. He hopes that he’ll have more evidence next year to persuade the council to give more of a donation.
Sheaff says he will begin talking to other governmental bodies in the near future in hopes of gaining some more funds to continue to provide the scholarship program next year. The decision to raise the donation was first motioned by Ward 5 Alderman Steve Warmowski, who said during the meeting that many members of the Promise Organization live in his ward and he wanted to see the group continue. The other Ward 5 Alderman, Don Cook, brought some hesistancy to the motion saying he didn’t want the donation to open up a can of worms for other non-profit organizations to come to the council and ask for taxpayer money to fund projects. City Attorney Dan Beard recommended that the money come from the gambling fund. At which point, Cook had no further objections saying that it was different if it was coming from that fund as opposed to the general fund where taxpayer money from the tax levy is distributed. The motion was eventually seconded by Ward 4 Alderman Brandon Adams. The motion passed with a single abstention from Ward 2 Alderwoman Lori Large-Oldenettel. Oldenettel is currently employed by Lincoln Land Community College and would have had a conflict of interest had she voted.
Sheaff had presented a Western Illiniois University Economic impact study to the board last month, describing the amount of money that Promise scholarship recipients inject into local colleges as well as to the local economy. Sheaff believes, and restated at the meeting last night, that the scholarship program pays tax dollars forward to the council by keeping people in the Jacksonville community.