Foundation Offers Challenge Grant to Owosso Schools

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Shiawassee Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jeff Deason, Owosso Mayor Ben Frederick, Cook Family Foundation Executive Director Tom Cook, and Owosso Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Andrea Tuttle

The Cook Family Foundation announces a one million dollar grant opportunity for the Owosso Public Schools, contingent on voter approval of the proposed bond issue on February 24.  If the community votes to upgrade its school facilities, the Foundation will provide $500,000 for equipment to outfit vocational education classrooms and $500,000 to support development and use of a pool for community use.

“We have long partnered with the community on education,” said Foundation President Bruce Cook.  “We are ready and excited to now make our largest grant ever, and to make it in support of  Owosso and its schools.”  Last year, the Cook Family Foundation made grants totaling $583,000, and the proposed $1,000,000 grant would be above and beyond the Foundation’s usual grant-making.

The Owosso Board of Education last fall made a decision to seek voter approval for a bond proposal to provide new and renovated educational facilities for grades 6-12 and significant improvement in all school buildings.  More information on the bond proposal is available from the Owosso Public Schools (click here).

“The proposed building improvements offer many ways for the schools to partner with the community,” said Owosso Schools Superintendent Dr. Andrea Tuttle.  “We are excited about the opportunities created by this generous offer from the Cook Family Foundation.”  The Foundation and the schools will work with local employers and business organizations to determine what equipment to install in new CTE classrooms funded by the proposal.

Partnerships will also be sought with local government and community organizations to determine how best to design and operate the existing pool as a community asset. The bond proposal would build a new regulation-sized pool that meets competition standards. The existing pool, which would be kept at a warmer temperature than an athletic pool, would then be available for community use for swim classes for youth, water aerobics for adults, and family recreational swims.

The Foundation does not take a position on any ballot measures.  Bruce Cook had this to say about the millage election, “We recognize that this is an important decision by voters in the Owosso School District, and we hope that citizens take the time to give their vote the consideration it deserves.  We too have given our funding decision important consideration, and believe it to be a wise investment in our community”

The Cook Family has had a long involvement with the Owosso Schools.  Donald Cook, the founder of the Foundation, graduated from Owosso High School in 1920, as have members of the next three generations of the family.  Two members of the Cook Family, Jackie Cook and Laurie Caszatt Cook, have served on the Owosso School Board.  One of the first grants the Foundation awarded was in 1978 to make landscaping improvements at the Owosso High School, and over the years the Foundation has supported mini-grants for teachers, scholarships for students, and the development of the International Baccalaureate Programme, among other grants.

“Strong schools are critical to the future of our community, the health of its economy, and the success of our young people,” said Bruce Cook.  “If the community makes a decision to invest in the Owosso Public Schools, then we want to do our part too.”

Next “Tech Talk” January 27

As part of the NonProfit Capacity Building Program, Tech Talk networking began in December 2014–but it’s not too late to join in!  If you’d like to be a part of it and haven’t yet responded, reply to this post, or Tweet us @ShiaNPCB or @awolber

The tech group will meet again on January 27, 2015 at Safe Center (1300 North Hickory Street, Owosso, MI) where we’ll focus on security.  Read through the following to learn a few ways to improve the security of your accounts and devices. If you want to improve your security setup, bring your phone and laptop to the session for some “hands-on” help.

Improve Security with 3 Apps by Andy Wolber (@awolber)

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Too often, headlines proclaim “Millions of passwords stolen”. The news may cause concern. But unless you’re hacking or hiring for the compromised company, there’s not much to do after a security breach except change your password and monitor your accounts.

Yet you can improve your security with three apps: two to protect your accounts, and one to protect your device. The apps? A password manager app, a two-step authentication app, and a device remote management app.

Protect your accounts

  1. A password manager app

A password manager app solves two problems: length and re-use. A password manager generates a long, random string of characters for each of your online accounts. With a password manager, you never use the same password twice. Should a site be hacked, you only need to change the password for that single account.

I use LastPass, which works on most operating systems (Windows, Linux and Mac) and with most browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Internet Explorer). I pay $12 per year for LastPass Premium to access LastPass on mobile devices (Android, iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone). You might also consider Dashlane. (See “The best password managers for PCs, Macs, and mobile devices” by Tim Ferrill at Infoworld.com for more reviews.)

Both LastPass and Dashlane encrypt your information, then sync your passwords to their servers. This encrypted data syncs to each of your devices. Because of this, use a strong password to secure access to your password manager app.

  1. A two-step authentication app

A site that supports two-step authentication requires you to login with your username and password, then enter a six-digit number for access. You obtain the six-digit number from your phone, either from an app or a text message. Even if someone hacks your username and password, they’d still need your phone to access your account.

You need two things for two-step authentication to work: you need a phone to obtain the code, and the site needs to support two-step authentication. Facebook supports two-step authentication, for example, as do Apple, Dropbox, Google, and Microsoft. Follow the links to instructions to enable two-step authentication at each of these sites. See https://twofactorauth.org/ for a long list of others sites that support two-step authentication.

Protect your device

  1. Device remote management app

Apple, Google, and Microsoft all allow you to lock, locate, or erase your phone remotely. Follow the links to configure these capabilities for your Android, iOS, or Windows Phone device.

If you lose your phone, lock your device first to protect your data. Then login to your account online to locate your phone — or force it to ring, which is helpful if you’ve misplaced it nearby. As a last resort, send a signal to erase your phone the next time it connects to the network.

Similar tools protect laptops or desktops. For example, Prey protects Windows, Mac OS, and Linux systems, as well as Android and iOS devices.

Additional security

For most people, the three steps above will improve security. A few other actions help, too, though.

To ensure complete computer security, build every part of your system from scratch — and never connect it to a network. Since that’s likely not practical, then at least install and configure the apps above to make your accounts and devices more secure today.

Financial Aid Workshop January 19

1978896_10152568144744232_8367881271452503021_nApplying for financial aid is perhaps the most important, and most complex, task many a high school senior will undertake.  To help academically talented students sort through this process, the Cook Family Foundation is holding a workshop on Monday, January 19 from 7-9 p.m. at the Baker College Welcome Center.

Mike Davis from the University of Michigan Office of Financial Aid will provide important information about qualifying for financial aid, as well as some useful tips on making college more affordable.  U-M is the only public university in Michigan to cover 100 percent of demonstrated financial need of in-state students (learn more here)

While Mike Davis gives particular insight to financial aid from the University of Michigan, his presentation will be applicable no matter what four-year university a student ends up attending. The first step for any prospective college student is to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the form used by all institutions of higher learning. To qualify for financial aid from UM, students and their families will also need to complete a CSS Profile.

Students and/or their parents are invited to attend the January 19 workshop.  While it is not necessary to RSVP, please contact us if you have questions (989-725-1621 or bruce@cookfamilyfoundation.org). To keep up-to-date on financial aid, scholarships, and other UM information follow us on Twitter @GoBlueGoBruce