A Public Education Foundation is a third party, non-profit entity whose purpose consists of developing supportive community, alumnae and private sector relationships with a public school system. A Public Education Foundation can also serve the following functions:
To broaden the constituency of support for public education
To better inform the community about the challenges facing public schools
To break down the isolation of the public schools from the general community, particularly those residents without children in the schools
To maintain confidence in the public schools
To be a liaison between public schools and their many publics, encouraging community and business involvement in a positive and supportive manner and provide the community positive, accurate information about the local schools year round, not just at budget or referendum time.
Public Education Foundations differ from other public school support groups in several ways. They are not situation responsive or single purpose, nor do they duplicate the work of existing organizations (such as the Home and School Association.) Foundations strive to involve the widest range of community interests. They are not a temporary or quick fix.
Public Education Foundations are designed to be a long lasting third party intermediary group that becomes a significant private partner in the support of public education.
The kinds of programs that a foundation can support are too numerous to include here, but few of the programs that might be undertaken serve as illustrations of a foundation’s efforts.
Some communities (such as Mountain Lakes) have used “mini-grants” for teachers as visible ways to have a positive effect on the school system. Foundations may sponsor after-school or weekend enrichment programs for students. They may sponsor learning opportunities for parents and community members who may not have children in the local school system. They may host community forums on a variety of issues. They may contribute to any type of effort that advances and enhances the education of children and community residents.
The most successful school foundations use fund raising simply as a means to an end. What that end is depends on the characteristics and needs of the school district and the community it serves. Foundations are not based on a single model. Although they share some features, each foundation is unique. Foundations derive their purposes and roles from the groups that create them. These purposes and roles vary widely, and once established, they dictate most aspects of the foundation’s operations. It is against these purposes (as outlined in the Mission Statement) that the foundation’s success is often judged, so they should be clearly defined.
The Foundation is intended to be a long-lasting intermediary organization that becomes a significant private partner in support of public education. It seeks to involve the broadest range of community interests and thus become a liaison between the schools and various citizen groups and private entities. In this way, the relationships between the community, Board of Education, schools and staff are enhanced.