The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 26, 2011

Building the foundations

Organizations work to meet needs of the Enid and area school districts

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — foundation (foun-da-shen) n. 1. The basis on which a thing stands ... or is supported.

Several foundations support Enid area schools by raising funds for educational expenses not in the budget of the school districts.

Enid Public Schools

Kim Blankenship, executive director of Enid Public School Foundation, said teacher grants are awarded twice a year, in the spring and fall. Funded by interest earned on the foundation’s endowment, grants total about $15,000 per semester, Blankenship said.

Teachers submit requests for grants early in the semester, she said. Requests are reviewed and grants recommended by a committee made up of community members.

“We obviously can’t fund all of them,” Blankenship said. “They’re all good, but it’s just down to the wire on what we can spend.”

Grants awarded have included math enhancements, project materials, science initiatives, library media and even a book project that included a teleconference.

The foundation is in the midst of a special fundraising campaign to purchase SMART Boards for classrooms that do not yet have them. The aim of the 100 Percent Smart campaign is to add 69 of the interactive white boards to Enid classrooms.

“Four years we needed to purchase 458 SMART Boards,” Blankenship said.

Many were obtained with a “buy one, get one” program and with funds raised by PTAs and donated by Barnes Family Foundation.

Most of the 69 classrooms still awaiting the technology are middle school classrooms, Blankenship said.

“We asked every student to bring $1, and that raised $7,250,” Blankenship said. “Then what we did with that money is we went to the community and asked people whether they would be willing to be a Smart partner and match what the kids raised or just give a donation.”

So far, about $120,000 of the targeted $250,000 has been raised, Blankenship said.

The foundation holds two annual events, one of which — Festival of Stars — is a fundraiser.

This year’s Festival of Stars — set April 25 at Enid High School’s food court — will feature vendors and music performed by the middle and high school bands.

A Hall of Fame banquet, held each October, honors those who have made a strong impact on Enid Public Schools, Blankenship said.

She said the foundation set up an office in the building that formerly housed Harrison Elementary School in January and officials always are interested in hearing from those wishing to serving on the foundation’s committees and board of directors.

Pioneer-Pleasant Vale

Pioneer-Pleasant Vale Academic Foundation, organized in 2004, serves one of the smaller districts in the area that consists of about 575 students.

Martha Gabriel, foundation president, said the organization still is working on building its endowment fund. For now, the organization splits funds between building an endowment and awarding grants.

A duck derby, usually held in August, is the group’s fun way to raise funds, Gabriel said. Prizes are awarded for first as well as last place in the rubber duck race.

“I think we’re the only one of the foundations that does that,” she said.

Another way the foundation raises funds is through the sale of commemorative ornaments, which are available now, Gabriel said. The ornament features the Pioneer mustang.

“It’s a small fundraiser but we’ve been real happy with it,” she said.

The foundation announces grants at the Pioneer-Pleasant Vale academic achievement banquet each November, and it also recognizes students.

“We recognize 70 to 90 students for their grades, and they get a medallion at the banquet that night,” Gabriel said. “It does raise some funds, but our emphasis is more making sure the kids get recognized.”

Pioneer-Pleasant Vale’s foundation has given about $18,000 in grants to teachers and other programs since 2004, Gabriel said.

The foundation also accepts memorial funds.

Chisholm Public Schools

David Stubbs, a founding member of Chisholm Foundation Inc., said the organization formed in 2003 and is working to build an endowment fund.

The amount of money raised each year drives whether the foundation gives one or two rounds of grants that year, Stubbs said.

So far, the endowment is in the “building” phase, not the “use the earnings” phase, Stubbs said.

“We haven’t gotten to the point yet that endowments actually contribute to the function of grants,” he said.

Foundation money is used for teacher grants and technology purchases, he said.

“Each principal will give us a wish list, and we try to fill that,” Stubbs said of technology purchases.

The money can go to an assortment of purposes.

“We’ve given 55 teacher grants over the past seven years,” Stubbs said. “We helped purchase a charter bus. We put an overhead scoreboard in the field house. We replaced the marquee sign for the middle school.”

All requests teachers provide are considered, and the foundation board determines how much funds are given for which purposes, Stubbs said. It has happened that the board gives all available funding to either grants or technology.

“Technology is an ongoing issue in all schools, I think, and we’re no different,” he said.

Around $14,000 was given last year, Stubbs said. That money is raised primarily through an annual “night out” in October that includes dinner, silent auctions, live auctions, raffles, split-the-pot collections and the like.

“It’s usually a pretty good fundraiser for us,” he said.

Great Land Run

Although not affiliated with a particular school district, Great Land Run Education Foundation gives an annual gift to Chisholm and Enid public schools for technology purchases.

The money comes from sponsorships and entry fees for the annual Continental Resources Great Land Run.

Brian Engel, with Continental Resources, said money is divided to the districts based on enrollment.

“Over the last three years, we’ve raised about $250,000 for technology in the classroom,” Engel said.

Enid Running Club manages the Great Land Run.