Founder's Award

The Timothy R. Stephenson Founder's Award is presented annually to the
EAST school that best demonstrates the overall purpose and mission of the EAST Initiative. The award is presented in honor of Tim Stephenson, who founded the EAST Initiative in Greenbrier, Arkansas in 1996. 

We believe the Founder's Award presents a great opportunity for you to showcase your program's abilities and hard work over the last year. An overall Founder's Award winner will be chosen and subsequent awards may be given to programs that best exemplify the criteria (Student Growth, Collaboration & Community Achievement, and Critical Thinking / Problem Solving). The winner of the Founder's Award and the subsequent awards will be called to the stage to present their program presentation to the Banquet audience.

Who Can Submit?

All schools are eligible to submit an application for the 2008 Founder's Award except Star City High School who was the winner of this award at the 2007 Conference. The three schools who won Awards of Excellence are eligible.

Any school who submits an Application Packet must be present at the Conference to be considered for an award.

How to Apply

Applying for the Founder's Award is a two step process. Any school interested in submitting an Application Packet, must first submit a Letter of Intent. If a Letter of Intent is not received for a school, the Judges Panel will not accept their Application Packet. Following are the guidelines for the Letter of Intent and Application Packet:

Step 1 - Letter of Intent - The Letter of Intent should be a formal letter (Word Document) addressed to the Founder's Award Judges Panel and should include the following information:

  • Name of your school and program
  • A statement of your intent to submit a complete Application Packet by the deadline
  • The main student contact for the application - name and contact information

To submit your Letter of Intent, please email the document as an attachment to

The deadline to submit a Letter of Intent is Wednesday, October 31st. Letters received after the deadline will not be considered eligible for submission of the Application Packet.

Application Packet Information & Judging Criteria

By submitting a Letter of Intent by the deadline, you have nominated your program to become a Founder's Award Nominee. Following are the criteria and submission instructions.

Judging Criteria

1. Student Growth - A major objective of EAST is to "grow the student". Is the EAST classroom providing a positive educational environment that promotes student growth?

One of the more significant ways in which EAST sets itself apart from other educational programs is that it focuses on the individual growth and development of every student that enters the classroom. No matter where the student's ability lies when entering, the student is expected and pushed to grow. This category is concerned with evidence that identifies such a learning environment.

Please provide evidence that:

  • Shows specific examples of student growth within or outside of the EAST classroom
  • Includes excerpts or quotes from students who feel that EAST has had a positive effect in their lives
  • Letters of Support from Principal, Facilitator, Other Teachers, Counselor, Parent, Others

2. Community Service & Collaboration - How has your EAST classroom impacted your school/community? Is the EAST classroom effectively collaborating with other programs/classes in their school, other EAST schools and/or other educational entities or businesses?

Please provide as many of the following that are possible and relevant. Brief narrative summaries of several of these categories will suffice where a specific document is not available.

  • Interaction with community members
  • Detail media coverage
  • Community awards received
  • Presentations made
  • Letters from community leaders and/or members
  • Letters from school principal and/or superintendent
  • Brief project descriptions that have had an impact on community
  • Examples of Collaboration with EAST schools (required)
    • Programs/classes in your school or district
    • Other educational entities
    • Local or national businesses
    • Other
  • Other examples of Collaboration and Community Achievement

3. Critical Thinking & Problem Solving - How have your students faced obstacles in the development of their projects? How have they worked through the problems (strategies) that they have encountered in their EAST experience? What has this led them to understand about themselves, their educational experiences, and their communities?

Please provide specific examples of students' methodologies in addressing complex issues and the reflection that either led to or resulted from their decisions, in the use of higher level thinking skills for problem solving.

Include multiple examples which illustrate the processes and successes within your program. How are EAST students using higher order thinking skills within your EAST community?

In retrospect, describe the impact this process has had upon their understanding of formal analysis of community problems.

Application Packet

A complete Application Packet includes two major components; Portfolio and Presentation.

1. Portfolio - The portfolio provides documentation and evidence of the criteria mentioned above. All documentation should be organized in a binder that does not exceed 2 inches in the following layout:

  • Application Summary - This should be a cover letter encompassing the judging criteria detailed above and an explanation of what the judges will be viewing in the Application Portfolio and Presentation. This narrative summary should have a maximum of 1,000 words.
  • Table of Contents
  • Criteria Summaries (please reference evidence in the appendix)
    • Student Growth (2-4 pages)
    • Community Service & Collaboration (2-4 pages)
    • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving (2-4 pages)
  • Appendix

We suggest including various examples from numerous projects that support the judging criteria.

The judges will be looking for the "total package" with an eye to the educational environment that makes such student achievement possible, not just one project. Please address all of the criteria even if your program strengths lie in just one or two areas. Only schools that address all of the judging criteria will be considered for the awards.

Remember that there are numerous Founder's Award Nominees, and although the committee is dedicated to being thorough, their time is limited. Please be as concise as possible! Remember, bigger is not always better.

2. Presentation - Each nominee is also required to submit a presentation that highlights how their program addresses each of the judging criteria and a brief look to the future. This presentation must be in the following format:

  1. Digital
  2. PowerPoint or Video (or combination of the two)
  3. At least five (5) minutes and must not be longer than seven (7) minutes. 
  4. Run automatically after being started as committee members will initially be viewing these with no one from your program present.

Applications will not be considered for an award if this presentation does not meet the requirements listed above. We realize this is a short amount of time to demonstrate the vastness of your program, and again encourage you to be concise and focus on the absolute best elements of your program and not get lost in the details of the individual projects.

The judging committee will view your Application Presentation first and then review your Application Portfolio. The Application Portfolio will be used to provide additional documentation and verify information in the Application Presentation.

Application Packet Submission

Application Packets must be RECEIVED by Wednesday, January 16th. Packets received January 17th or later will not be eligible for the competition. 

Please send them to:

Founder's Award Committee
c/o EAST Initiative
8201 Ranch Boulevard
Suite B-1
Little Rock, Arkansas 72223

Note: Please note that all items submitted as part of this application packet may not be returned. Copies of items (newspaper articles, letters, etc.) are encouraged so you may retain the original as documentation in your classroom.

Finalists Instructions

Finalists will be announced within one week of the application deadline.  Last year, finalists were asked to present to a review panel on the first day of the Conference.  Scheduling became difficult if the presenting students were also finalists for project competitions. 

This year, we have decided to do something different.  The new process below will replace the review at the Conference.  We want to see how you adapt from a self running presentation to an actual student led presentation.

If your school is selected as a finalist for this award you will be asked to complete the following additional submission.  

  1. Video record your students presenting as they would if they were on stage at the Banquet.  In the view, the committee needs to be able to see the students and the visual aid that will be used.   We want this recorded live from beginning to end (unedited).  It doesn’t have to be perfect or polished.  Production value or audio clarity will not be counted against you.
    • The audio within your visual aid (PowerPoint or Video) is limited.  The visual aid should be a tool that enhances but does not distract the audience from the presentation      
    • This presentation can be 5-7 minutes and must be burned to a DVD.  (Test this ahead of time and make sure it can be played on any DVD player)
  2. Next, burn a “master copy” of the visual aid to a separate CD or DVD.  (Note: You will not be able to make any changes to this once it has been received)  This will be tested ahead of time and will be loaded onto the computer that is used during the Banquet. 

Make sure to label both discs with your school name and either presentation or visual aid.  Finalist submissions must be received by Wednesday, February 6th in order to be eligible for the award.  Please mail the packages to:


Founder's Award Committee
c/o EAST Initiative
8201 Ranch Boulevard
Suite B-1
Little Rock, Arkansas 72223


After the submissions have been reviewed you may receive comments and/or suggestions if necessary. 


This page was last updated on Fri, Nov 2, 2007 at 9:15 AM | View all updates | Site Map