Scott Wilson, Exec. Dir. of The Foundation for Andover Schools
Q&A with Whitney Ward
How does the school district benefit from having the Foundation?
The Foundation has created enormous opportunities for both teachers and students, across all 11 schools in the district, by funding teacher grants and districtwide projects that otherwise wouldn’t exist. The Foundation started with a group of parents who were concerned about the direction of state funding for public education in Kansas. They believed raising private dollars was going to be one way to give our teachers and students the added educational opportunities to ensure Andover would remain an excellent school district.
Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded over 1,000 teacher grants and helped fund eight districtwide projects—a total investment of more than $1,000,000 in the district. The Foundation has become a constant source of funding for all schools in the district to help enhance our children’s education just like our founding members hoped it would.
How does the Foundation determine where and when to get involved?
We listen. The Foundation gets involved when needed tools, technology, curriculum, etc. fall outside the district’s budget. There are two major areas of support: annual teacher grants and districtwide projects. Through our teacher grant application process, we are able to see what needs exist in the classroom. And thanks to our strong partnership with the district, we are in constant communication with the superintendent to discover the needs that exist districtwide.
Why is it important to build an endowment?
First of all, what is an endowment? An endowment is a donation of money that will provide income for a specific purpose. Like many endowments, ours is designed to keep the principal funds intact and use the investment income to fund current initiatives. This ensures the Foundation’s continued giving for many years to come. The Foundation’s pool of endowments are critical to the long-term success of the Foundation and are an investment in future generations of teachers and students that will benefit from supplemental classroom funding.
What processes are in place to ensure integrity and accountability?
Given we are a 100-percent, volunteer-based group, the board of directors, past and present, has put a major emphasis on implementing processes and procedures to ensure the Foundation’s resources are managed prudently. From our bylaws and operating procedures to our thorough grant allocation process, each new class of board members has the roadmap for success. More recently, we have partnered with the Wichita Community Foundation (WCF) to assist us with management and oversight of our endowments. WCF will act as a consistent presence and professional resource for our revolving board. WCF will also add another layer of oversight to make sure our endowments are invested properly and the guidelines, spending policy and purpose for each endowment are being enforced.
How can the community get involved? Individuals? Businesses?
There are three basic ways for folks to get involved—time, talent and treasure.
Time and talent
We are always looking for strong board members to give back to the school district with time and talent. Consider serving as a board member or volunteer at one of our events.
As with any foundation, annual giving is the lifeblood of our Foundation. Consider setting up an annual gift to the foundation. Not sure how much to give? Studies have shown a strong public education foundation, like ours, should be raising $40 per student per year. If you own a business, please consider becoming a sponsor at one of our events or making a gift to our endowment or creating a corporate endowment within the Foundation.