Published: Mar 01, 2011 7:30 PM EST
Updated: Mar 01, 2011 4:30 PM EST

BRADENTON, Fla. – Bealls Department Stores, Inc., is proud to announce that 76 Florida schools have been selected by their local Bealls stores as finalists for its newly launched grant program, Bealls & Whistles for Schools, which will provide $10,000 to 10 Florida schools.
 
This is the inaugural year of the Bealls & Whistles for Schools grant program, which is donating a total of $100,000 to Florida schools.  The program was launched in August 2010, and more than 350 schools spanning the state turned in grant applications to their local Bealls store for a variety of projects.  Each of the 76 Bealls stores has now chosen a finalist based on the most compelling need, the best plan of action to address that need, and the best use of funds to create the most school-wide impact.  Bealls also took into consideration the extent to which each school’s project would increase parent and community volunteerism, enhancing the initial grant contribution.
 
“Giving children the best possible educational experience is very important to Bealls, and is a wonderful way to benefit our local communities in the long term, as Florida’s children represent Florida’s future,” said Mary Beth Fox, Vice President of Marketing for Bealls.  “We are proud to support education through our Bealls & Whistles for Schools program at a time when funding is often in short supply.”
 
Bealls & Whistles for Schools grant applications were designed with broad guidelines, which allows schools to determine for themselves how the funds will help their students most.  Grants can be used wherever each winner has identified their greatest need, whether it be enrichment programs, an updated computer lab or additional books for the library.  
 
“Our hope is that, by launching and promoting Bealls & Whistles for Schools, we will inspire our communities to get more involved in supporting our local schools,” said Fox.  “We’ve been gratified to see that, in some communities, others have already begun to assist their local schools alongside Bealls.”
 
The 76 finalists represent all types of Kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12) schools, including public, non-profit, charter, and private schools located in and licensed by the state of Florida. Grant applications will be judged based on which schools demonstrates the greatest need as well as on the executional and financial soundness of the proposed project.  In addition to being considered, each finalist will receive five volunteer hours from its local Bealls’ management staff.  A judging panel from Bealls Corporate Office will select the winners.

The Southwest Florida schools that are among the finalists:

Bonita Springs Middle

Challenger Middle

Estero High

Bayshore Elementary

Vineland Elementary

Varsity Lakes Middle

East Naples Middle

Golden Gate Elementary

Meadow Park Elementary