Howard Buffett donation helps students pursue public service careers

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DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Decatur Public School leaders said they accepted a more than $2.3 million donation from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation to launch the Jerry J. Dawson Civic Leadership institute.

The Institute will offer students a program designed to raise awareness of careers in public service including law enforcement, firefighting, and government service. It’s named after former Macon County Sheriff Jerry J. Dawson, who served the Sheriff’s Office for more than 30 years. He also served as an adjunct instructor at the Decatur Area Technical Academy and Richland Community College and was a city councilman.

“Early in my career, I worked directly with a number of young people who made mistakes,” said Dawson.”Those interactions opened my eyes to the support kids need to make good choices as they mature. Later, I looked back on that experience and really tried to get to the root of things and understand where our challenges are.” He continued to say Decatur is “blessed with resources to explore new ways of addressing these challenges.”

The Institute launches in fall of 2020 for students at Eisenhower and MacArthur High Schools and will also have ties to the current Public Service Academy at Stephen Decatur Middle School. The grant will also provide scholarships for eligible Institute students to continue public service education. Scholarships will help students pursue certifications through Emergency Medical Services, nursing, criminal justice and political science programs.

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