We’re nearing the dog days of summer, but even with the heat and humidity ratcheting up, there’s still plenty to be smiling about in the Quad-Cities!

Outdoor music, festivals, and of course, plenty of good news.

Every month, QuadCities.com, in conjunction with our media partners at KWQC-TV6’s “Paula Sands Live,” present you with What’s The Good News? a look at some of the positive things happening in and around the Quad-Cities over that month.

So, what’s the good news for August? Glad you asked!

Ravon Johnson Taylor Awarded The GritGrant Award

Ravon Johnson Taylor was awarded the McKenzie Foundation & Uncharted Learning 2021 GritGrant award. He was chosen as one of four recipients from across the country! He is also the first Rock Island High School Student to win the award.

Ravon graduated in 2021 but came back to Rocky on August 9 to receive his award and meet with Jim McKenzie from the foundation over Zoom.

What's The Good News For August, Quad-Cities?Any high school student who is enrolled in an INCubatoredu / ACCELeratoredu and/or MobileMakersEdu / MobileMakersStudio programs can be nominated. Ravon was nominated by his INCubatoredu teacher, Trish Matson.

GritGrants are based on a student’s Grit and Character. Elements of “Grit” include:

  • Optimism, confidence, and creativity
  • Resilience despite fear
  • Laser-like focus on meaningful goals
  • Excellence not perfection
  • “Character” as described by CharacterLab.org refers to ways of thinking, acting, and feeling that benefit others as well as ourselves. Character is plural—encompassing strengths of heart, mind, and will.
    • Strengths of heart (such as gratitude and kindness) enable harmonious relationships with other people.
    • Strengths of mind (such as curiosity and creativity) enable independent thinking.
    • Strengths of will (such as discipline and self-control) enable the achievement of goals.

In her nomination letter, Mrs. Matson said Ravon exemplifies all of these things and did so while facing some setbacks, “Ravon’s persistence in achieving his academic and athletic goals while suffering through personal setbacks and tragedy make him a worthy recipient.”

Mrs. Matson added that Ravon’s work ethic helped lead his INCubatoredu Entrepreneur and Enterprise team to first place for their business pitch.

Along with the award, Ravon received $2,500 from the foundation.

Congratulations Ravon!

Two Quad-Cities Teens Competing In National Rowing Championships

Incoming University of Minnesota rower Ella Saunders was named to the U.S. Under 19 National Team, for the 2021 World Rowing Junior Championships (Aug. 11-15) in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

What's The Good News For August, Quad-Cities?

Saunders (front) of North Liberty, Iowa, rows with Olivia Meskan of Aledo, Ill., and they will both compete for the U.S. in Bulgaria.

Ella Saunders, a member of the national champion Y Quad Cities junior rowing team, competed in world championships this week and will attend the University of Minnesota.

A native of North Liberty, Iowa (north of Iowa City), Saunders will compete in the women’s double sculls for the United States, according to the University of Minnesota.

As a three-year member of the Y Quad Cities junior rowing team, Saunders is coming off a national title with the program’s girls quadruple sculls at the 2021 USRowing Youth National Regatta and two national titles at the 2021 USRowing Summer National Championship in the women’s under-19 double sculls and women’s under-23 double sculls.

She previously won gold medals at the 2020 US Rowing Youth Virtual National Championships in the girl’s quadruple sculls and the 2019 USRowing Summer National Championship with the women’s under-19 double sculls.

Saunders is a member of the National Honor Society and graduated high school Magna Cum Laude, according to her USRowing bio. She was part of a 100k world record relay team. She enjoys boating and watching movies. Ella drives 76 miles to practice each way every day and twice a day most days. She was a competitive dancer before she started rowing. She found rowing through a Learn to Row program at the University of Iowa boathouse.

Ella lists her sister, Rachael Saunders, as her personal hero. Rachael plays basketball for Creighton University in the Big East conference, and despite injuries, is a starter for her team. Ella said Rachael is an incredibly hard worker and has taught her the importance of putting in the

extra work to succeed.

Olivia Meskan of Aledo, Ill., will row with Ella, among the 60-person roster of the 2021 Under 19 National Team that will compete at the 2021 World Rowing Junior Championships. She won the quadruple sculls at the 2021 USRowing Youth National Regatta, and won the Under 17 double sculls at the 2020 Virtual Head of the Hooch.

The U.S. will have 14 crews competing at the five-day regatta in Bulgaria. Events include the men’s and women’s single sculls, double sculls, quadruple sculls, pair, four, four with coxswain, and eight.

Last year, the event was cancelled due to Covid. In 2019, the U.S. won two medals — silver in the men’s eight and bronze in the women’s single sculls. The U.S. roster includes athletes from 18 states. California leads the way with 10 athletes on the U19 roster, while Florida and Illinois each have seven.

Complete press coverage, athlete bios and links to event information will be available at www.usrowing.org and www.worldrowing.com.

Rocky Students Named as Charles O. Austin Scholars

The board recognized 65 students who have maintained a 3.5 GPA or above for 6 semesters.

At the Board of Education meeting on August 10, 65 Rock Island High School seniors were honored as Charles O. Austin Jr. Scholars. The What's The Good News For August, Quad-Cities?students were presented with certificates of recognition for completing six semesters of study and earning a 3.5 GPA or higher.

The designation was established by the Board of Education in honor of Charles O. Austin, Jr., who served District #41 for 14 years as Rock Island High School Principal and for 7 years as Superintendent of Schools. Austin demanded excellence, was a roll model for achievement, and directly impacted the lives of thousands of our communities’ youth.

Julie Hansen, daughter of the late Chuck Austin III and granddaughter of Charles O. Austin Jr., attended to present the certificates.

To see a photo album from the awards, click here: View photo album>>

For the full list of students, see QuadCities.com!

Hunter Classic Teeing Off To Help Local Youth

The 2021 Hunter Classic, benefiting the HAVlife™ Foundation, will be held Monday, October 4, 2021, at  Crow Valley Country Club, 4315 E. 60th Street, Davenport, IA. Registration will be held at 11 a.m. with a shotgun start at 12 noon. A total of 144 golfers can compete.

Funds raised will benefit the HAVlife™ Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization based in the Quad Cities. HAVlife™ helps young people What's The Good News For August, Quad-Cities?participate in activities they usually wouldn’t be able to afford. Ages 10 to 15 are special years for young people, when the dreams and Hunter Classic 2021 Combines Golf and Community Spiritambitions of childhood develop into the achievements of adulthood. But for some, financial burdens and life’s obstacles can crush their dreams and block their ambitions. These young people are at risk of entering adulthood filled with doubt and frustration. HAVlife™ works with schools and youth organizations to find places where a little help today might make a big difference tomorrow.

By providing scholarships in the area of athletics, music and arts, we turn lost potential into achievements and points of pride. Last year, the Hunter Classic raised nearly $40,000 which helped fund activities that fall through the cracks as school funds are cut and family budgets run short. Things like music lessons and vocal camps, athletic supplies and participation fees …  costs that can keep a kid from stretching and sometimes soaring.

“I’m honored that concerned, caring Quad-Citians are again combining forces to help kids and show their support for the foundation,” said Mike Vondran, CEO of TAG and founder of the HAVlife™ Foundation. Join us and play for potential to support the youth of our community. Funds raised will provide participation scholarships in the area of athletics, music and arts that will turn lost potential into actual achievements for many young people.

Registration fees: $195/player or $780/team. Registration includes: 18 holes of golf with cart, golfer gift, bag lunch, on-course beverages, and dinner & program following golf. You can visit the webpage for the event online at: https://quadcities.havlife.org/events/2021-hunter-classic-benefiting-the-havlife-foundation (The page also includes the PDF file for the registration form.)

To register, please call 563-676-1830, email KimG@havlife.org or fill out and return this registration form: https://quadcities.havlife.org/upload/PDF/2021HunterClassicRegistration.pdf

Cambridge One Of First Recipients Of Heart And Soul Grant

Community Heart & Soul is pleased to announce the Village of Cambridge as one of the first recipients of their $10,000 Seed Grant. The Community Heart & Soul Seed Grant Program funds resident-driven groups in small cities and towns working to revitalize their communities by undertaking the Community Heart & Soul process.

What's The Good News For August, Quad-Cities?

Cambridge is one of the first recipients of a $10,000 Community Heart & Soul seed grant.

Cambridge is one of the first recipients of a $10,000 Community Heart & Soul seed grant.

This grant and program provide the potential to transform the community through Community Heart & Soul, a resident-driven community development process that leads to increased local pride, more viable economic development projects, and stronger community connections, according to a Friday release. The Village of Cambridge is providing matching funds and will work with Heart & Soul Coach, Jason Neises of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, to launch community development efforts using the Community Heart & Soul process.

“Small cities and towns have an opportunity to emerge from the pandemic with a brighter, more prosperous future,” said Mark Sherman, Community Heart & Soul Executive Director. “Our Seed Grants accelerate the adoption of Community Heart & Soul so that more communities can use the proven model now, when it is

Cambridge is Among First Recipients of Community Heart & Soul $10K Seed Grant

John Taylor, a board member for the Village of Cambridge, also heads the Levitt AMP Summer Concert Series in Galva, Ill.

needed most.”

Community Heart & Soul is a resident-driven model that creates lasting change in towns and small cities by engaging all residents to identify what matters most in their daily lives and what makes their town special…your town’s “Heart & Soul,” according to www.facebook.com/CommunityHeartandSoul.

Veterans Eligible For Home Base Help In Scott County

Veterans who put their boots – and roots – in Scott County now may be eligible for up to $8,250 in relocation incentives after the county’s new designation as a Home Base Iowa (HBI) community. The designation involves area partners including Scott County, the City of Davenport and the Quad Cities Chamber. The chamber announced Thursday the following incentives:

What's The Good News For August, Quad-Cities?

Home Base Iowa is a program designed to connect businesses with qualified veterans, transitioning service members and their spouses who are in search of career opportunities statewide.

$1,500 closing costs reimbursement from Scott County. Scott County provides this incentive to qualifying veterans living outside of the county who purchase a home in Scott County.

$1,500 closing costs reimbursement from the City of Davenport. The City provides this incentive to qualifying veterans living outside of Davenport who purchase a home in Davenport.

Interview expenses reimbursement. Scott County will reimburse qualifying veterans living outside the county with a maximum of $250, up to two times, for hotel and meal costs incurred when interviewing for a job with an employer in Scott County.

$5,000 tax credit available for any qualifying veteran purchasing a home within Scott County. The credit, provided through the State of Iowa, is awarded at the time of closing. To be approved, the veteran’s lending institution must be affiliated with the Iowa Finance Authority.

Home Base Iowa is a one-of-a-kind program designed to connect businesses with qualified veterans, transitioning service members and their spouses who are in search of career opportunities statewide. It also provides resources to connect veterans and their families with education and transitioning to a new community.

“Veterans, we welcome you. We want you to come to the Quad-Cities to live, work, and play,” Mike Oberhaus of the Q-C Chamber said in a chamber promotional video. “In order to do that, we’re offering an incentive in Scott County.”

The HBI network includes more than 2,400 military-friendly companies in Iowa that have pledged to hire veterans. Veterans can search for opportunities, as well as post their resume at homebaseiowa.gov, which doubles as a resource for businesses and communities looking to find veteran job seekers.

The State of Iowa also offers a variety of veteran incentives including: no state taxes on military pensions as well as veteran hiring preference, which allows veterans preferential treatment in hiring decisions by both the private and public sectors.

Davenport Schools Students Can Eat for Free in Coming School Year

All Davenport Community School District (DCSD) students will get free breakfast and lunch during the 2021-2022 school year, as part of the Seamless Summer Option funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that will allow all students to eat for free every day, regardless of income.

Students and their families who would like to qualify for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) or other income-based benefits must still apply through the school district on the Free and Reduced Meal Application to be eligible for the funding. This application must be completed annually.

Students who choose virtual or online learning for the 2021-2022 school year will be eligible for free meals. Five breakfasts and five lunches will be available to pick up weekly from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Tuesdays starting Aug. 24.

What's The Good News For August, Quad-Cities?Meal pick-up location is the same as last year: Davenport Learning Center, at 1002 West Kimberly Road. Students with special dietary needs or allergies must contact the district at 563-336-7430 prior to pick-up to ensure accommodations can be met.

A parent or guardian may pick up meals for the student. Students are always welcome to pick up meals, but do not need to be present. This will be an open site, so families that homeschool or preschool half-day program students are eligible to pick up meals as well. Children must be between the ages of 1 to 18.

“It is important for families to apply for these programs as soon as possible, if they haven’t already,” said Coni Dobbels, Supervisor of Food and Nutrition Services at DCSD. “We want to make sure that the children of the community are able to stay nourished and healthy during these difficult times.”

Online applications are available at https://www.myschoolapps.com/. This application must be completed annually. Families will receive a letter confirming meal benefit status after the application is processed. Free or reduced-price meals cannot be provided without prior approval.

“You may apply at any time during the school year if the size of your household goes up, or if your income goes down, or if you start getting Food Assistance, FIP, or other benefits,” Dobbels said.

To learn more about the Davenport Community School District, please visit http://www.davenportschools.org/.


What's The Good News For August, Quad-Cities?
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.
What's The Good News For August, Quad-Cities?

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