The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Education

March 22, 2006

Local groups providing more financial aid to area classrooms

Local education foundations are working to recognize the commitments school districts make to education and reward teachers and students for making a difference.

In Garfield County, Kremlin-Hillsdale, Pioneer-Pleasant Vale, Chisholm, Enid and Autry Technology Center all boast education foundations. And although each school makes their own contributions to the district, their purpose is the same.

Amber Graham Fitzgerald, Enid Public Schools school and community relations director, said EPSF provides opportunities for teachers and students that the district might not otherwise be able to offer.

“By funding materials, programs and projects that encourage creative and innovative teaching, the foundation helps us find that special spark for every child,” Fitzgerald said. “When the students are excited about a lesson, the teacher can then really make an impact. It increases the likelihood that they will remember and apply what they have learned.”

Enid Public School Foundation hosts several fund raisers through the year for its grants to teachers program. The foundation continues to present more than $30,000 each year to Enid Public Schools teachers.

While Oklahoma’s local education foundations vary in size, structure and programming, all are 501 (c)(3) non profit groups led by boards of directors comprised of community volunteers. Local education foundations are funded almost entirely by private contributions, relying on community supporters to raise and distribute funds.

Oklahoma has one of the nation’s largest networks of local education foundations, with 192 currently on record with the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. Based on a 2005 survey of Oklahoma local education foundations, 108 responding foundations have, since inception, awarded more than $26.6 million to community schools. The money includes grants, scholarships and funds for other activities not available through regular school budgets.

Most public school foundations use the grants-to-teachers program as the primary means by which funds are distributed. Teachers write proposals for the grants, which provide curriculum, equipment and other materials districts typically don’t fund.

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