The North Carolina Foundation for Public School Children (NCFPSC) announces its seventh annual Champions for Children Gala, which will be held on Friday, May 3, at the Angus Barn Pavilion in Raleigh, 9401 Glenwood Avenue. A silent auction and cocktails will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner and the award presentations at 6:30 p.m.
Those being honored this year as Champions for Children are leaders from our state who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to ensuring that all students, regardless of their economic circumstances, have access to equal opportunities for academic success. The Foundation is proud to announce that this year’s Champions for Children are:
Beverly Perdue, a public school teacher and the first female governor of North Carolina. Since teaching in the classroom and then serving in the NC Senate, where she led the Education and Appropriations Committee, Perdue has worked tirelessly to close the national achievement gap created by socio-economic disparities. Since leaving office, she has continued to serve the public school students of NC. Perdue founded and chaired digiLEARN, a non-profit institution designed to accelerate personal learning options for students and instructional opportunities for teachers. She has served as the Resident Fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. She was appointed by the U.S. Education Secretary to serve on the non-partisan National Assessment Governing Board. Not surprisingly, Perdue is the first female to chair that assessment board in its 30+ year history.
Chris Paul, professional basketball point guard for the Houston Rockets. Paul has received numerous awards for his athletic prowess: NBA Rookie of the Year Award to NBA All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award to two (2) Olympic gold medals. What stands out more than his stellar athletic accomplishments is the hard work he has done to give back to his communities. Paul was recognized as the 2016 Sports Humanitarian of the Year as a result of his Family Foundation, which donated more than a million dollars to Boys and Girls Clubs Across America. His Foundation places an emphasis on putting technology and computer labs in underprivileged, low-wealth schools.
Glenn Pierce, senior principle for family-owned Pierce Group Benefits. Pierce Group Benefits serves more than 150,000 public school employees in 96 school systems and 33 community college systems in North Carolina. There is no doubt that during his tenure, which began in 1968, Pierce has stepped into every public school in our state. Providing supplemental insurance is not all that Pierce does for our schools, though. Through Pierce Group, he has forged partnerships with too many community organizations to list, but they include supporting programs through the YMCA, Wake ED Partnership, Baptist Children’s Home of NC, KICKSTART (The Tools to End Poverty), and Elon Homes and Schools for Children. He has built a legacy for his own children by building community into our public schools.
The Honorable Robert F. Orr, retired NC Supreme Court Justice. After serving our country in the U.S. Army and then serving our state as an 18-year member of the NC Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, Mr. Orr continued to protect the constitution and our laws for the citizens of NC. He continues to practice law and has worked as an Adjunct Faculty member at NC Central University. Orr served as the executive director and senior counsel of the NC Institute for Constitutional Law and as a trustee of the University of NC Center for Public Television (UNC-TV). The Honorable Robert F. Orr, however, will forever be memorialized for his work as a Supreme Court Justice in authoring the final opinion on the landmark LEANDRO public education litigation (Hoke County Board v. State), in which he declared that the State Constitution guarantees every child “an opportunity to receive a sound basic education.”
Bishop J. Jasper Wilkins II, senior pastor of Wake Chapel Church and film producer. Bishop Wilkins is known for his riveting sense of humor and his infectious energy. His motto is “Keep it simple and share a smile” but it is for his contributions to reaching our most vulnerable families and showing them that they are not alone that he has been awarded the state’s highest honor. The governor conferred upon him the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Bishop Wilkins produces films through Wake Media Films about struggling families, most recently There’s My Angel. These films portray characters struggling with abuse, abandonment, drug addiction, and poverty. “You have to help people where they are, not where you want them to be,” Wilkins said. “It’s the good, the bad and the ugly. Never, ever give up.”
The purpose of the North Carolina Foundation for Public School Children (NCFPSC) is to ensure that every child, regardless of financial circumstances, has the necessary tools to learn and grow. For more than two decades, the Foundation has provided to our state’s impoverished public school children whatever is needed to remove barriers to learning — eyeglasses, medication, clothing, school supplies, field trip assistance, and more.
In addition to helping public school children with their needs, the Foundation also gives leadership to the Teacher Cadet program, a program designed to give high school students who aspire to be teachers a comprehensive program to guide them toward that career. The Foundation has developed a curriculum that includes a focus on STEM skills in order to increase the number of teachers in those areas. The curriculum educates students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. The Foundation also provides grants to teachers to assist them in continuing their professional development.
The annual gala is the primary fund-raiser for the NC Foundation for Public School Children. Tickets to the 2019 Gala are $150 each and can be secured through the website, www.ncfpsc.org, or by calling the Foundation office at 984-222-3625. The NC Foundation for Public School Children is an NC 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.