The Tigard-Tualatin School District's non-profit hopes people donate on Giving Tuesday.

This coming Tuesday, the Foundation for Tigard Tualatin Schools wants you to give.

Tuesday, Nov. 28, is "Giving Tuesday" — the Tuesday after Thanksgiving when charities, non-profits and foundations ask folks to make donations in the spirit of the holidays.

"You have the retail focus — Black Friday, Cyber Monday — and then you have Giving Tuesday," said Laura Wieking, a board member who coordinates marketing for the foundation. "So we want to use that as a platform to launch our end-of-year giving campaign, which is important to the foundation. It helps us start off our 2018 fund drive.

Since 2006, when the foundation first started tracking its donations, it has raised over $1.5 million for the Tigard-Tualatin School District's 15 schools. Looking ahead to 2018, executive director Margie Greene said she hopes to almost double what the foundation has contributed to the district in the past.

"That is an ambitious goal, but we really do believe our opportunity can support our ability to do that," Greene said. "We want to double our efforts, and bring more opportunities for principals to hire more part-time teachers."

Funding part-time teachers is one of the foundation's most notable functions, Greene said. The foundation also funds visual and performing arts through its Art in the Burbs grants, and helps teachers try out new teaching methods and projects through its innovative grants.

Greene said that the innovative grants give teacher the opportunity to explore "really unique, different ideas about how to better engage the students. … You can have a great teacher there, but if they aren't engaging with the students then it's really a lost cause."

This year, the foundation's Art in the Burbs grants saw a 15 percent boost in funding. And the foundation school grants — thousands of dollars given to each school, to be spent at the principal's discretion — will increase by 10 percent in 2018. That means each school will receive $8,835.

Much of that funding will go toward paying part-time teachers' wages. In some schools, that could mean breaking a class into two different ability levels in a subject, such as math. At others, it could mean bringing in extra help for students struggling with reading and writing.

"That eight thousand really does add up to a lot more hours, from one person or from a lot of people," Greene said.

For those enmeshed in the Tigard-Tualatin School District, the foundation's existence and functions may be common knowledge. But new families come into the district each year, and the foundation seeks donations from district residents even if they don't have kids attending a public school — so educating the public is an important component of fundraising.

"Parents might not know how we differ from their (former) parent school organizations," Wieking said. "The shortcut is, we get to hire licensed teachers, and PSOs can't."

Last week, the foundation launched a Giving Tuesday campaign on social media, posting informational graphics and encouraging donors to post "selfies" with the hashtag #GiveMoreLearning. For Wieking, reaching out to potential donors outside of the district is essential.

"Whether people have kids or not in the district, strong education in the community makes a difference," she said.

After Giving Tuesday, the foundation's next big push for funding will come in February, when its grant funding drive begins.

Blair Stenvick
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