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The Marilyn & Steven Prater Family Fund

Snoopr Room decorations; St. Francis School, Quincy ILOn Friday, March 27, 2015, I was back home in Quincy IL for the announcement of The Marilyn & Steven Prater Family Fund, administered by the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois & Northeast Missouri.

This new fund permanently endows a two-year scholarship for a student starting seventh grade at St. Francis Solanus School in Quincy. My Dad, sister, and I wanted to expand the impact of the smaller donor-advised fund we set up at Mom’s request in 2008, in a way keeping with her legacy as a teacher at the school – specifically her love for reading and music – and the spirit of the other donors to the original fund.

  • I wrote more about Mom, her work at St. Francis School, and the original fund in a 2009 blog post here.
It was an emotional day – largely of the good kind. We toured the school, starting at the tree planted in Mom’s memory in 2009, talking with students and teachers throughout. We visited the classroom where Mom taught, and were delighted to see that the Title I Reading Room that Mom decorated with Peanuts characters is still called “The Snoopy Room”, with Mom’s decorations still on the walls.
Some photos from the day are below the following press release, which describes the fund and its associated scholarship. Here here are some links to local media coverage:


FOR RELEASE: 11:00 a.m., Friday, March 27, 2015

Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois & Northeast Missouri

Contact: Jill Arnold Blickhan, Executive Director

(217) 222-1237 or (217) 430-9991

Family fund will help students attending St. Francis

In late 2007, as Marilyn Prater prepared for her death, she made it clear that she did not want people to send flowers or fleeting acknowledgements. She wanted to channel that energy to help children learn.

Marilyn, who served as an elementary school teacher for more than 40 years, had observed the impact of reading, music, art and theater in her students and children.

Following her death in January 2008, her family set up a memorial fund to honor her. Today, the family expanded that tribute. While visiting St. Francis Solanus Elementary School, they announced the formation of the Marilyn & Steven Prater Family Fund. The fund is dedicated to cultivating reading and the fine arts in St. Francis School students.

Through a scholarship program, a student who shares these passions will receive tuition assistance to facilitate continued education.

“We’re proud of Mom’s legacy of teaching. She helped generations of students and their families discover their love for reading, art, and music,” said her son Ethan. “St. Francis in particular is where she found her home. She loved the students and families here. We wanted to be helpful to the school’s families and we wanted something that would be enduring in Mom’s memory.”

“Many teachers here still speak so highly of her, and I am sure that she has touched the lives of so many students over the years as well,” said St. Francis School Principal Lori Shepard. “We are just so blessed to have this support!” Shepard exclaimed when the family first contacted her about their plans. “Some student will have a welcomed gift because of your generosity.”

The first award will be announced in May for a student who will enter the seventh grade at St. Francis in fall 2015. Applications are available at the St. Francis School Office, 1720 College Avenue and must be submitted by 4:00 p.m., Friday, April 10.

Marilyn’s friends, former students, colleagues and others are also welcome to make charitable contributions to the fund which is held with the Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois & Northeast Missouri.


St. Francis Solanus School was established in 1862, as a Roman Catholic elementary school and serves students in grades kindergarten through eighth. St. Francis staff is certified by the State of Illinois. In addition to the faculty, Franciscan Priests and Brothers help develop the children’s understanding of God and the Church. The school welcomes students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to participate in and enjoy all of the programs and activities offered.

The Community Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization connecting people who care with causes that matter. Serving 12 counties in West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri, it builds permanent charitable funds to address significant needs and opportunities now and in the future. It has IRS 501(c)(3) status and contributions made to it generally qualify for the maximum allowable deductions for income and estate tax purposes. For more information about the Community Foundation, call 217-222-1237, email, or go to or 

072809_0751_InMemoriamM1.png  St. Francis Solanus School; Quincy IL  Marilyn Prater Memorial; St. Francis School; Quincy, IL  Marilyn & Steven Prater Family Fund Announcement  Snoopy Room; St. Francis School; Quincy IL  Marilyn Prater Classroom, St. Francis School  Marilyn & Steven Prater Gravestone; Greenmount Cemetery, Quincy IL  Marilyn & Steven Prater Tombstone (Reverse); Greemount Cemetery, Quincy IL

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  1. […] While Mom was dying, she was very clear that she did not want people to send flowers or other fleeting acknowledgments of her death. She wanted to channel that energy to help children learn to read and to play music. So my family established a donor-advised fund for her at the Community Foundation of the Quincy Area. More information on Mom’s fund can be found here. [UPDATE: in March 2015 we greatly expanded this project, creating a new Marilyn & Steven Prater Family Fund to permanently fund a two-year scholarship at St. Francis School for a student who shares Mom’s love for reading and the arts. More details on that can be found here.] […]

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