Forest Grove schools will hire development coordinator soon

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Quinn Johnson, Tanya Peterson, Cindy Benson-Taylor and Michelle Warren are members of the Education Foundation of Forest Grove, which is looking for a development coordinator. The group hopes to hire someone in the next few months. Sometimes, as the song lyrics say, you get by with a little help from your friends.

But when you’re a volunteer group tasked with raising money to pay for programs outside the local school district’s operating budget, sometimes you need to call in reinforcements.

That’s exactly what members of the Education Foundation of Forest Grove board of directors are doing as they get ready to hire a development coordinator later this year. It will be the first paid position in the group’s history.

“We need someone to help manage and promote the foundation,” said Quinn Johnson, president of the nonprofit. “We have a small number of board members who work very hard and have accomplished great things. Unfortunately, we have struggled in recruiting additional members.”

The foundation, which has been active since 1989, has provided money for teacher grant requests over the years, Johnson said — some of which have become quite large.

“Two years ago we had grant requests that totaled over $33,000, with technology being the No. 1 request,” he noted. “We just don’t have the resources, or honestly, the people power, to generate that kind of money.”

Enter the part-time development coordinator, who needs to be an outgoing individual who “can interact with the community,” said Johnson. By working efficiently 10 to 15 hours a week, the board hopes the new hire can drum up interest and support for the foundation’s mission: helping students.

“We try to target programs that have the most impact on (the greatest) number of kids,” said Johnson, owner of KH International, a Forest Grove food broker. “What we need now is for parents or business people to get involved to help make a difference in the education of Forest Grove students.”

Bold step

Connie Potter, chief of staff for the district, serves as the central office liaison to the foundation.

“The foundation is about to take a bold new step,” she said earlier this month, calling the board’s move an effort to “take the foundation to the next level.”

Particularly over the last several years, as the Great Recession has deepened, “it’s tough to sustain an organization on volunteers alone,” observed Potter. “This is a step to building the foundation beyond what volunteers alone can do.”

Money set aside in an endowment fund held by the foundation will pay the new person’s salary. Johnson said conversations with founding members of the foundation yielded a consensus that “the use of (those) funds for hiring a coordinator would fit within the original intent for that money.”

Raising money

One high-profile way the foundation has raised money for its beneficiaries is the annual “Christmas with the Trail Band” concert, held at Forest Grove High School every December. This year’s performance is on Dec. 5

“Last year we started a spring concert (featuring) Celtic music, and we’re looking at doing that again,” Johnson said.

Annual phone-a-thons have fattened the foundation’s bank account, and the group recently started sponsoring financial retirement classes, with proceeds generating “a fairly easy return” to the foundation, added Johnson.

Board members would like the new development director to manage the money allocated for four different scholarships, which are awarded to deserving high school seniors each year.

A job description for the development coordinator says the position’s major functions are to “initiate fundraising activities, implement marketing and community outreach strategies, direct the daily operations of the foundation, supervise volunteers, oversee financials and work closely with the foundation board of directors.”

A bachelor’s degree in nonprofit management, marketing or business administration is preferred. The coordinator will report to the board, which consists of Johnson, Cindy Benson-Taylor, Susan McDowell, Tanya Peterson, Michelle Warren and TJ Buehler, all of Forest Grove.

To Johnson, the move is essential to the foundation’s future health.

“We feel that if we are actually going to make a difference in the school district, we need to get to this level,” he said. “I think we can become a strong force for the school district.”

The time frame for finding the right individual will expand to meet the board’s requirements.

“We would like to find someone who could start at the beginning of 2013,” said Johnson. “If the right person is not available at this time, then we will wait until we find them.”

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