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Five Questions: Sara Patinkin

Lake Oswego Schools Foundation executive director offers insight into the organization


Photo Credit: REVIEW FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego Schools Foundation Executive Director Sara Patinkin shares how her nonprofit organization functions.(Editor’s Note: Five Questions is an occasional series designed to shine a spotlight on the people who are working — often behind the scenes — to make Lake Oswego a better place to live, work and visit. Look for more Five Questions profiles in upcoming issues of The Review.)

Sara Patinkin is the executive director of the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for teachers in the Lake Oswego School District.

Patinkin, who has a decade of fundraising experience, took the reins as leader of the foundation in August 2013. The 34-year-old married mother of two earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs at Lewis & Clark College and a Masters of Public Administration, nonprofit management, from Portland State University.

Since it started in 1986, how many teachers has the foundation funded and how much money has the foundation raised?

With the passage of Measure 5 in Oregon in 1993 and the funding gaps that occurred as a result, the foundation board, at the time, changed where its dollars went — dedicating all donations to the hiring and retention of teachers. Since then, over 270 teaching positions have been funded by the foundation. Since 1986, the foundation has raised $23 million to advance the education of our students.

Who decides where the funds go?

The foundation and the Lake Oswego School District have a memorandum of understanding; it outlines that dollars raised by the foundation and granted to the district must only be used to hire and retain teaching positions.

What’s new with the foundation’s campaign this year?

The foundation just completed a strategic planning process that will carry through the next three years. We are looking to increase the dollars raised over the next several years to be able to increase our support of teaching positions within the district. We would also like to see an increase in the percentage of families within the district supporting the campaign.

Our Annual Luncheon is moving (temporarily) to the Tualatin Country Club. This year’s event will be Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Heather Beck (the superintendent of the Lake Oswego School District).

What are some common myths about the foundation?

Myth no. 1: The foundation is part of the school district. The Lake Oswego Schools Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) organization. It has a volunteer board of directors consisting of 30 community members with every school in our district represented. The school district pays for the salary and benefits of a part-time executive director and donates in-kind the services of the bookkeeper, office space, technology and other services.

Myth no. 2: The foundation sets policy. The Lake Oswego School District and the school board set the education policies of the school district. The foundation raises funds that are used to hire and retain teachers at all of our schools. It does not set, or have a say, in policy decisions.

What are some things about the foundation that people may not know about or might be surprised to learn?

The foundation’s fundraising is successful because of our generous community, but also because of the 250-plus volunteers who donate their time throughout the school year to help raise funds. With only a part-time executive director, the organization depends on the talent and time of our parents to help organize the campaign, phonathons and luncheon.

Contact Jillian Daley at 503-636-1281 ext. 109 or jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com.

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