Tom Pittman, president of Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, holds the Education Innovation award in front of NASDAQ in Times Square. Credit: Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi

Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi was honored at the Education Innovation Awards presented by EVERFI, Inc., for its efforts to strengthen communities and empower students through unique digital learning opportunities.

Twenty institutions were honored with this distinction at a ceremony hosted on June 12 at the Nasdaq Marketsite in New York City, the foundation said in a press release

Honorees were selected based on a set of criteria that included the scale and impact of their digital education initiatives as well as unique student engagement and employee volunteering activities that supplement their programs.

The Mississippi foundation’s Community Digital Scholars program this year involved 25 percent of the 4th-12th grade public school students in its 11-county region. The largest number of those students engaged with the financial literacy segment and, on average, increased their knowledge of personal finance by 91 percent, the foundation’s release said.

“Education is one of the main causes that matters to the Community Foundation’s mission. From our earliest successful efforts to place Internet-accessible computers in all of Mississippi public classrooms, we have used technology to improve education,” said Community Foundation President Tom Pittman. “We appreciate this national recognition of our efforts.”

Since it began with a pilot in Hernando High School in 2010, the Community Digital Scholars program has helped 89,412 students in Northwest Mississippi learn valuable life skills such as personal finance, digital responsibility, and prevention of substance abuse, the foundatioin said. The web-based program uses the latest in simulation and gaming technologies.

The generosity of a donor who wishes to remain anonymous enables the foundation to provide the Community Digital Scholars program to students at 80 schools with no cost to schools or taxpayers.

The Community Foundation release noted that it manages 235 donor-established funds and has distributed $18.3 million to support more than 420 charitable organizations and activities recommended by its donors, as well as charitable programs established by the foundation.  It serves the 11 counties of DeSoto, Marshall, Tunica, Tate, Panola, Quitman, Coahoma, Bolivar, Tallahatchie, Sunflower and Leflore.

Established in 2002 with a generous grant from the Maddox Foundation, the Community Foundation is an independent 501.c.3 charitable organization. More information is available at

The Community Foundation is governed by a volunteer board of directors. Board members this year are chairman Scott Coopwood, vice chairman Joe Azar, secretary Rev. Bartholomew Orr, treasurer Bob Bowen, Kim Brown, Willbert Corley, Wayne Godwin, Tom Gresham, Lillian Hilson, Scott Burnham Hollis, Lucy Janoush, Emily Johnson, Mat Lipscomb, Robert Mehrle, Tom Pittman, Colie Sanford, Sarah Sawyer, Daniel Vassal, Mike Wagner and Danny Williams.

Pittman also serves on the Mississippi Today board of directors.

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