CREATE Foundation Received Prestigious Winter-Reed Partnership Award

With the slogan “Every Community Behind Every Child,” the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education (MAPE) has served as a network of educators and community partners since 1984. One of just a few statewide partnership organizations of its kind in the United States, MAPE is committed to collaboration and sharing of best practices to help build local support for the success of all students.

Networking is done through membership to the organization as well as regular regional meetings. Partnership training is offered at the annual state conference. A partnership curriculum and site-based consulting aid in strengthening networks. One of the ways outstanding school community partnerships are recognized is through the annual Governor’s Awards for Exemplary Partnerships. Additionally, the organization recognizes individuals or groups who have outstanding records of supporting and working to support public education in the state with the Winter-Reed Partnership Award.

The 2018 Winter-Reed Partnership Award was presented to the CREATE Foundation during a luncheon ceremony on October 22 at the BancorpSouth Convention Center in Tupelo. Founded in 1972, the CREATE Foundation has a service area of 17 counties and is Mississippi’s oldest and largest community foundation. CREATE is committed to improving the quality of life for the people of Northeast Mississippi by cultivating charitable service and by investing effectively in education, community development and quality services for individuals, families, and children.

The Winter-Reed Partnership Award is a very special honor presented to Mississippians who are devoted to improving public education. Launched by MAPE in 2007, the award is designed to honor the unique bipartisan partnership forged by Governor William Winter and the late Tupelo businessman Jack Reed Sr. Since the inaugural presentation, the Winter-Reed Award has been presented annually to recognize Mississippians who have helped improve and promote public education in the state. Both Winter and Reed have a strong background in promoting and improving public education in Mississippi, the South and nationwide.

William F. Winter served as governor of Mississippi from 1980 to 1984 and was responsible for the passage of the Education Reform Act of 1982, considered the most significant educational legislation enacted in Mississippi since the establishment of the public school system. Governor Winter chaired the Southern Regional Education Board in 1982.

Jack Reed Sr. of Tupelo was one of the first business leaders in Mississippi to actively promote state-supported public education and the need to keep public schools open. In 1980, Gov. Winter appointed Mr. Reed as chairman of the Special Committee on Public Education, and following the passage of the Education Reform Act of 1982, he became the first chairman of the State Board of Education. In 1989, President Bush named him chairman of the National Advisory Council on Education Research and Improvement.

“No two organizations received more of Dad’s energy, thought, and effort than CREATE and the State Board of Education,” said Jack Reed Jr. “He would be enormously proud to have seen the CREATE Foundation honored in this way. He certainly would have felt it to be an appropriate recipient. He also would have given high praise to both the terrific professional staff of CREATE and to the exceptional quality of the members of the CREATE Board, which together have done much more than ‘light a single candle’ to fight the darkness of Mississippi’s struggles to provide excellence in public education.

“In making its selection for the Winter-Reed honoree,” says Dr. Leslie Griffin, President of MAPE, “the MAPE board seeks to shine a spotlight on those individuals or organizations who have achieved enduring positive impact on communities through education —particularly via school-community partnerships. It would be rare to have a conversation with colleagues in Northeast Mississippi about an education initiative without hearing a reference to the CREATE Foundation. There seems to be a sense of family among CREATE stakeholders—the idea that whatever the goal or issue, the CREATE Foundation is going to be at the table to support and move an initiative forward. This is particularly true in the area of education. These stakeholders reflect a great sense of pride in what they are able to accomplish through the network of partnerships and support established through the Foundation.”

Mike Clayborne, executive director of CREATE Foundation and a board member of MAPE, says that education has always been a real centerpiece of what CREATE Foundation is all about. “It is particularly meaningful for us to receive the Winter-Reed Award. Jack Reed was a founding member of the CREATE Foundation and he leaves a strong legacy of working to improve education in Mississippi. And of course, we have an affinity for Governor Winter, who has always been a champion of education in Mississippi.” Clayborne says the Foundation had a strong start early on with founder George McClain, who pioneered the idea of building a strong foundation in children ages five and under. “Perhaps the key ingredient in the success of Tupelo is our strong public schools. With a gift of $50 million from Toyota Wellsprings Fund, the sky’s the limit for our students. This fall we are launching a career coach program in each school to supplement what the counselors do. We’ve given $1.5 million in STEAM grants, and we have put a real focus on career awareness and readiness. In October we held our fourth ‘Imagine the Possibilities’ Career Expo for 7200 area eighth graders. It was a very interactive career expo with over 130 companies represented. We had folks in construction, healthcare, law enforcement and a wide variety of other fields, including over 100 people from Columbus Air Force Base who came for three days. We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on the Career Expo.”

Sean Suggs is president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi and vice president of administration, responsible for all manufacturing and administration functions at Toyota’s Blue Springs, Mississippi plant. He also serves on the CREATE Foundation Board of Directors. “Toyota has a strong interest in education,” says Suggs, “and the CREATE Foundation has a strong history of doing great things for education in this state. Of course, every great organization has superb leadership, and Mike Clayborne is a phenomenal leader. He knows how to get all the stake holders together, and he is knowledgeable on regulations, and he’s open to innovation and change. CREATE Foundation has been a good partner to us in advancing our mission. They’ve listened and they’ve implemented many of our ideas, including the ‘Imagine the Possibilities’ Career Expo and now implementing the career coach program in our schools.”

Phil Hardwick is with the Else School of Management at Millsaps College, and a past president on the MAPE Board. “I have been familiar with CREATE Foundation for a number of years, and what I really like is that they get results. They have measurements they require the communities they work with to provide. And they are committed to the future of Mississippi. CREATE Foundation is definitely worthy of this recognition as they are a model for other educational organizations to look at.”


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