WL-WV Education Foundation works hard behind the scenes
If you havent heard of West Linn-Wilsonvilles Education Foundation its not because of the groups lack of work or involvement with the school district.
The current group of 14 volunteers made up of a mix of teachers, district administrators, parents and community members works throughout the school year, mostly behind the scenes, in hopes of raising funds to hire additional full-time teachers for the school district.
The mission of the organization is to support the school district and its goals, says longtime Foundation member and former WL-WV assistant superintendent Jane Stickney. Adding additional teachers has been our focus for many years now.
The Education Foundation is separate from both the school district and any parent groups affiliated with district schools. Because the foundation is a registered nonprofit, it can fund teachers unlike other organizations such as school PTAs.
I think there are a fair number of people that dont know about us and they dont understand who we are or what we do, says President Elaine Cozart. They consider the money they give to us as competition to money they give to PTAs or PTSAs, and the difference is were the only entity that can raise money specifically for teaching positions.
(PTAs) can pay for really important resources like enrichments, but they cant spend money for full time employees.
And the new teachers that the Education Foundation is able to help add to the district become permanent once hired thanks to some help from the WL-WV School District.
When we add those positions lets say we help pay for two teachers for this school year, come the following year the district has committed to retaining those teachers, Cozart says. Its truly making a great investment in teachers, and its not just for one year.
While the foundation has managed to raise enough money for two new full-time teachers every year for the past few years, theyre hoping to get to three this year a feat that would require between $180,000 and $195,000 raised in total.
Its a lofty goal, but its one that the Education Foundation plans on achieving.
Wed like to fund three teachers this year and we think we can do that, Cozart says. We have great support in this community that really helps us build and help our kids achieve.
Cozart, Stickney, Vice President David Steinberg, Treasurer Jim Kamikawa and Secretary Teri Willard make up the groups board, planning and executing four primary fundraiser campaigns and events throughout the year in hopes of meeting their goal.
The first campaign of the year is also Cozart and Stickneys favorite, a chance to honor the districts existing teachers while raising money for future instructors. The Education Foundations HOT Campaign Honoring Our Teachers is set to take place between Thanksgiving and the beginning of December.
Its a time when a family can give a gift to the foundation in honor of a teacher (or group of teachers) that they want to honor, and the then the foundation sends back to the teacher a certificate and a letter telling them the family donated on their behalf, Stickney says. Its a nice tradition in the district teachers feel honored and appreciated, which is the whole goal.
The other big fundraising campaign the Education Foundation holds is its Count Me In campaign, again looking for community donations.
We attempt to contact every family in the school district to ask for a gift, for the purpose of hiring more teachers, Stickney said. Each school has a parent volunteer action team that helps out.
The Education Foundation follows up with two fun events for students and families, starting with a Blazers Night, April 9, where families buy special tickets to a Portland Trail Blazers basketball game through the foundation. The tickets allow for families to go on the court following the game and shoot free throws in the Moda Center. Theres also a raffle, choosing 20 kids to go down on the court during halftime and high five the players as they run out of the locker room.
The Education Foundation closes out the school year by participating in the Tonkin Fun Run, where 100 percent of entry fees go to a nonprofit of each racers choice the Education Foundation being one of the options.
Its a lot of work for a group made up entirely of volunteers, but its something Stickney says is extremely rewarding. A member of the Education Foundation since 1994 and former assistant superintendent of the school district, Stickney knows first-hand how important the groups work is.
The mission is one that is dear to my heart. Its so pure, its so right for the community, because this community cares so much about its children and their education, she says. We know teachers are the people that make it happen in the schools. Being able to add a few more each year because of this work is powerful.