Public, private partnership works with academy

Local Clintonians are working to educate this community about the international students from the Confucius International Education Group (CIEG), who will be arriving this fall. Every Saturday, an editorial will appear in this space, written by people who are involved in this project and/or have experienced various cultures, languages, values and beliefs.

I am the community coach for the Clinton County Hometown Pride program. The program is a five-year commitment to enhance the economic and cultural fabric of Clinton County. The program is financed by the generous contributions of an Iowa philanthropist, the Clinton County Development Association and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors.

The Hometown Pride program is part of the Keep Iowa Beautiful organization, a statewide nonprofit committed to enhancing the image and appearance of Iowa communities; thereby improving their economic health and cultural vitality. When these areas shine, Iowa shines.

Hometown Pride is a program to assist and improve Iowa communities, specifically, rural Iowa communities, such as Clinton and the surrounding towns. The program provides a community coach to walk alongside qualifying Iowa communities and coaches them to a more sustainable future. Hometown Pride coaching offers leadership training, youth service learning and a variety of educational components, tools and solutions for community development. Improving public spaces is integral part of this program. This effort enhances the community cultural and economic vitality — strengthening the communities and giving citizens a sense of pride in their communities.

I started as the consultant with the program here in Clinton County, last August. I work currently with eight communities in the county to facilitate community development. As part of my responsibilities I also facilitate the local City of Clinton Hometown Pride committee. One of the goals of that committee is to partner with the Iowa-based company Confucius International Educational Group (CIEG) LLC, the Clinton School District and the city of Clinton to support and advocate for the re-purposing of the former Ashford University campus into an educational facility.

Members of the City of Clinton Hometown Pride Committee are very excited about this opportunity to take a vacant campus and re-purpose it into an educational and economic asset for the entire Clinton area. This is an incredible use of this beautiful campus. The CIEG group looked nationwide for the right facility to establish their boarding high school for international students. Clintonians should be proud that their community fits the rigorous standards the group was looking for in this opportunity.

People in Clinton have started putting up banners, posters, and yard signs as well as wearing buttons with the message of “Clinton Welcomes You” in both English and Mandarin. These banners, posters, yard signs and buttons are sponsored by the following generous donors: Howes & Jefferies Realtors, Julie Allesee, Ashford University, George and Sandi Sills, Tom and Phoebe Soenksen, Chris and Kindall Farwell, Byron and Carol Griffith, Clinton National Bank, Clinton Printing, and Sisters of St. Francis Franciscan Peace Center.

The new boarding school will add students paying full out of district tuition, new investments and more jobs into the community. It will give the new students an opportunity to meet and sit in classes with Clinton public school students. This exposure to bright students from another culture will also benefit the Clinton students, too.

This is a win-win situation for the Clinton community and the new international boarding school. This is a model for the public and private sectors working together to promote economic opportunity right here in river city.

Francis Boggus is the Clinton County Community coach for the Keep Iowa Beautiful Hometown Pride Program.