By Kim Walter
The Frederick County Educational Foundation has made great strides over the past two years by increasing its fundraising capability, and it looks like the growth will only continue.
The foundation is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization established in 1984 to provide grants and scholarships not available through local, state or federal funding. It solely relies on private support from parents, school employees, community members, alumni and local businesses.
It serves more than 13,000 students in a variety of programs.
Mary Nordman, foundation executive director, has been in the position for the past two years. When she started, the foundation was able to fund about $20,000 worth of grants and scholarships.
This past year, it was able to put $80,000 into the school system, helping with teacher and classroom development, as well as student progress.
"When I came here we started doing some research, and we found that some teachers are spending as much as 10 percent of their own money for classroom programs," Nordman said Thursday. "I thought that was awful."
Nordman has tried to raise awareness in the community about the foundation, since all the funds end up impacting student success.
The foundation has come up with two new fundraisers. One is an online auction, done through a partnership with the Frederick County Rotary, Nordman said.
With donation of items and business sponsorships, community members can visit a website and bid on a number of items, including vacations, gift certificates to local restaurants and shops, and lessons for a variety of "fun activities."
The auction will start on the first of November, and Nordman has set a goal of $30,000. The foundation will receive 75 percent of the profits from the auctions.
Last month, the foundation started another fundraiser through Hotel Planner. Nordman said the company, which has worked with a number of school divisions, contacted her. However, the Frederick County Educational Foundation is only one of two in Virginia that is taking advantage of the opportunity.
On the Frederick County Public Schools website homepage is a link to Hotel Planner, a site that offers discount hotel rates. By booking a vacation or trip through the website, the educational foundation will receive 20 percent of Hotel Planner's commission.
Nordman said she's been trying to get the word out about it, and hopes it can be a partnership that keeps growing.
"It's great because there's no time limit on how long we can keep the link up," she said. "I spoke to an employee of another school division that tried it out, and they were in their second year of the fundraiser."
Nordman said she's grown to realize that the community surrounding Frederick County Public Schools is a "very giving" one, but she knows there are still a number of people who are unaware of the foundation and what it does for local students.
She said the foundation raises funds for all 18 schools in the division, including Dowell J. Howard and Northwestern Regional Educational Programs. All of the schools can use whatever financial help they can get, she added, especially with decreased state and federal funding.
"We're not raising money for bricks and mortar," she said. "If we want our students to succeed and be competitive with other school systems, we have to support professional development and learning opportunities as much as we can."
To find out more about the educational foundation and how to donate, go to sites.google.com/a/fcpsk12.net/fcef.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org