Application accepted for Lincoln Award


By Jane Berry

News Editor

The Lincoln Silver Award for Progress Towards Excellence, also known as the Baldridge Award, is the second highest honor that the Lincoln Foundation gives out. The Lincoln Foundation “strives to be the leader in ‘Helping Illinois Organizations Excede’ according to

According to Paul Kuchuris, President and CEO of the Lincoln Foundation, over the past 15 years, the Foundation has had 221 applications sent (not including this year), but only 135 have been accepted. Of the 135, there were only 34 recipients in the education field. This year, District 214 has applied for this prestigious award.

Based on the district’s application, the board from the Lincoln foundation has come to look at all the district’s schools to examine the district to see if it can “walk the talk.”

According to, the examiners are going to be looking for several characteristics, including evidence of systematic, well developed approaches to the organization, the commitment to and practice of continuous improvement principles and significant progress in building sound and notable quality processes.

“The Lincoln Award is not a project that you do really well and get an award for,” Associate Principal Michelle Dowling said. “[The Lincoln Foundation] is looking at organizations to see if they have a structure in place that allows for continuous growth and excellence.”

Although the examiners will be coming during homecoming week, Principal Kurt Laakso does not believe that the school will have to adjust the schedule or prepare any of the staff because the school is a “great, successful organization, and if people are doing their business, the school should make a very positive impression.”

This is not the first time the district has applied for the Lincoln Award. Two years ago, the district sent in an application, but it was denied.

Director of Staff Support Judith Minor and Associate Superintendent for Education Services Rosemary Gonzalez-Pinnick went to a seminar that taught them how to use the same language as the examiners and how to show the best way to present the district’s statistics on success rates so that the district has a much better opportunity of recieving the award.

The award is about having a system to continuously improve but also to recognize and please the customer.

“Some people may think our customer is our students,” said Dowling, “but it’s actually where they go after [Prospect].”

District 214 has three main goals to push us towards “pleasing the customer”: reduction of D’s and F’s, closing of the achievement gap between the populations, and having every student go through at least one positive AP experience.

“If the district receives the award,” Laakso said, “there will be a boost to our reputation in the community, across the state and across the nation, so that makes our school district more competitive for grants that are becoming increasingly important with respect to school funding.”

Due to the economic state America is currently in, many schools are turning to grants to help support them. Although many grant processes used to be formula-based, meaning based on the number of students or size of the school, they now have a more competitive edge. Grant-donors look for an organization that will be doing something worthwhile with their money.

In past years, the district has been recognized by Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report and the U.S. Department of Education when the district received a Blue Ribbon award for excellence. However, the Lincoln Award is very prestigious and would give the district even more respect from the community and the nation. .

“This kind of an outside evaluation process can help validate the kind of work we are doing,” Laakso said, “and the kind of contribution we are making by producing excellent students and productive citizens.”