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A third-grade student who loves to dance, a kindergartner who needed a pair of wrestling shoes. Both were helped as part of a new initiative, enabled by the Davenport Kiwanis Club.

The club pledged $25,000 to the Opportunity for All program, just underway in the Davenport Community School District. The check was given to representatives during the club meeting Thursday at the Davenport RiverCenter.

The project will fund specific student needs  when it comes to extra-curricular activities. The Davenport Kiwanis Club approved the funds for all students in all Davenport schools, said H.J., "Jack" Dane, Kiwanis president. 

The first example is Damarion Myles, in third grade at Monroe Elementary School. Damarion was a "wiggly" student in class, according to Principal Ben Driscoll. When a counselor called his parents on an unrelated topic, it was discovered the youngster would love to be enrolled in Davenport Junior Theater classes.

Money for needs like this are the point of the Opportunity for All fund, T.J. Schneckloth said. Schneckloth is the director of federal and state programs and student services for Davenport.

The adminstrator is mindful of an achievement gap, where some students may be behind their peers, from the start. The way to even the field is to close the "opportunity gap," Schneckloth said.

As it turned out, Demarion has benefited from the Junior Theater classes, and his behavior in school has greatly improved, Driscoll said.

The money will be collected by the Davenport Schools Foundation, and it also involves a partnership with the 180 Zone, Jenny Halupnik said.

The 180 Zone provides the manpower to meet the actual needs, Halupnik said, whether that means running to a store to buy something, or working with community partners to lower costs on programs. 

Davenport Superintendent Art Tate said some students are set up for failure because of the achievement gap, seen in districts across the country. 

Driscoll, Monroe's principal, provided real-world examples to the Kiwanis Club members. In addition to Damarion, there was a kindergarten student who wanted to be on the wrestling team, but did not have the right shoes.

For hygienic reasons, the shoes could not be borrowed, Driscoll said. The money was made available to buy the shoes, and the youngster took part in the program, held at Davenport West High School.

A third example is a Monroe student who needs help to participate in Dad's Club activities.

"These are your stories," Ami Wells told the Kiwanis Club members. Wells, with the Davenport Schools Foundation, will be the fiscal sponsor of the funds dispersed, and handle the tax side of the transactions.

Opportunity for All is not to enable, but "will meet families where they are," Schneckloth said. He promised to return to the Kiwanis Club and report on the program's progress.

"We will do our best to stretch these funds as best we can," Driscoll said.

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