OFE News Release
Three Public School Foundation Programs to be Recognized for Outstanding Achievement
June 3, 2009
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Three public school foundation programs have been selected as recipients of the 2009 Outstanding Program Awards for Local Education Foundations sponsored by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence.
The awards, which recognize innovative programs sponsored or administered by public school foundations in Oklahoma, will be presented at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Annual Meeting in September. Receiving plaques and monetary awards of $1,000 each will be the Rockin’ Boppin’ Concert Series sponsored by the Kingfisher Educational Foundation, the Sophomore Challenge Scholarship Program sponsored by the Okemah Public School Foundation and the Teachers Warehouse sponsored by the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
Recognized programs may include but are not limited to: mentoring, arts integration, student leadership development, curriculum enhancement, student scholarships, professional development for teachers, public relations and fundraising. Nominations for recognition can be made by any member of a community served by the local education foundation or by anyone knowledgeable about the foundation, including its board members. The program awards are sponsored by the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit organization that recognizes and encourages academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools. Among its many programs, the Foundation for Excellence provides free training and resources to new and established local education foundations across the state.
“We are honoring these programs for the positive impact they have in promoting academic excellence in their communities,” said Dr. Karen Rose, director of Local Education Foundation (LEF) Outreach for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. “In addition, we will recognize these amazing programs at our upcoming LEF Regional Meetings so that other public school foundations in Oklahoma can be inspired by their success and perhaps develop similar programs in their own districts.”
Kingfisher’s Rockin’ Boppin’ Concert Series is more than a successful fundraiser; it’s a “fun-raiser.” The Kingfisher Educational Foundation launched the event in the early ‘90s as an after-prom fundraiser, but it has since become a biennial, three-night concert series featuring high-quality, community talent. The sell-out 2008 concert series, titled “Rockin’ Down the House,” was inspired by the demolition of the district’s historic high school and featured musical acts representing each decade from the life of the old school, from the 1930s through the ‘90s. A commemorative T-shirt featured the school’s mascot, a yellow jacket, at the helm of a wrecking ball knocking down the old structure. The 2008 concert raised more than $8,000 in profits, with residual DVD sales still ongoing. Acts for each production must go through a rigorous audition process to ensure quality and professionalism, with many of the musical acts including teachers, students and alumni. Foundation board members play key roles in organizing, directing, backstage management and even performing.
“While the first and most obvious objective of the Rockin’ Boppin’ series is to raise funds for the Kingfisher Educational Foundation’s grants for teachers program, the secondary objectives include raising awareness of the foundation’s mission and the school system it serves,” said nominator Christine Reid. “... The concert is just plain fun, offering the kind of wholesome, community-oriented, family entertainment that is so often missing in our modern digitally-enhanced society. For that reason, ticket prices are kept affordable to make the concert experience accessible to as many people as possible.”
The Okemah Public School Foundation’s Sophomore Challenge Scholarship motivates students to excel in high school and begin planning early for college or career-tech training. The program provides up to eight $1,000 scholarships each year to qualifying sophomores. The students then receive an additional $250 each semester through their senior year if they maintain a 3.0 grade point average or better. After graduation, if the challenge is met, the full $2,000 scholarship is awarded to support college or career-tech expenses. Funds for the scholarships are raised through an annual “Tee Up for Education” golf tournament sponsored by the foundation. Foundation board members promote the scholarship program and conduct college preparedness workshops during visits to sophomore English classes. The program has strong community support, from advertising in the local newspaper to promotion through the local chamber of commerce. In a community where 78 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch, 33 percent live in single-parent homes and 17 percent of the adult population holds a college degree, the public school foundation seeks to increase student awareness of educational opportunities beyond high school, encourage academic progress and increase community support for student scholarships.
A 2002 scholarship recipient wrote, “The Challenge Scholarship exposes its recipients – and the broader sophomore class – to the possibility of financial aid early enough to really make a difference, before one has written off a chance at success because of lack of resources. To be told instead that members of the community in fact expect such success is one of the strongest motivations I can imagine.”
In a survey of Oklahoma City Public Schools teachers, more than half indicated that they had spent at least $500 per year on classroom supplies, while 20 percent spent more than $750. The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools has found a way to help teachers keep more of their hard-earned money while providing needed supplies for students to succeed. The Teachers Warehouse, established in July 2008, gathers surplus items from businesses and individuals to offer free to Oklahoma City teachers. The foundation organizes, inventories and manages an online catalog at www.okckids.com/tw to make donated materials available to teachers free each month. Items have ranged from pencils and backpacks to office furniture and misprinted pizza boxes, which students use for art portfolios. Since last July, the program has placed more than 1,400 orders to educators totaling over $129,000 in donated items.
“With the Teachers Warehouse, everyone wins,” said nominator Dave Lopez, president of American Fidelity Foundation. “Businesses gain because materials that they would otherwise warehouse or pay to haul away become tax-deductible donations that are recycled and support students. Teachers win by reining in out-of-pocket expenses and time spent scavenging for supplies. Students have a greater chance at success with the materials they need to learn.”
The response from teachers has been very positive, with many reporting that they feel more appreciated and supported by the community. As an added benefit, the Teachers Warehouse is helping increase awareness of the foundation’s other programs available to teachers. “The Teachers Warehouse gave me a ray of hope that the community is backing Oklahoma education,” one participant wrote.
For more information on this year’s Outstanding LEF Program Award winners or the upcoming LEF Regional Meetings, contact Karen Rose at (918) 743-5533 or e-mail email@example.com.