Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence


July 25, 2017 - Four Public School Foundation Programs to Receive Awards

by OFE | 2017-07-26 11:38:24

The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence has selected a comprehensive academic support program for at-risk students and three successful fundraising programs as recipients of its 2017 Outstanding Program Awards for Local Education Foundations.

The awards, which recognize innovative programs sponsored or administered by public school foundations in Oklahoma, will be presented at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence Fall Forum for Local Education Foundations on Oct. 17 in Norman. Receiving plaques and monetary awards of $1,000 each will be the Education Promise Program sponsored by Bartlesville Education Promise, Trojan 20 sponsored by the Jenks Public Schools Foundation, the Black & Gold Gala sponsored by the Inola Educational Enrichment Foundation and the Fashion Show Fundraiser presented by the Wagoner Education Foundation Inc.

“We are honoring these programs for their creativity and the positive impact they have in supporting academic excellence in their communities,” said Donna Alexander, director of Local Education Foundation Outreach for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. “In addition, we will recognize these innovative programs at our Oct. 17 Fall Forum so that other school foundations might use these ideas in their own local communities.”

Bartlesville students dissect owl pellets during a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) camp hosted by Tri County Technology Center. The camp is part of the Education Promise Program, a comprehensive academic support program to help students successfully graduate and prepare for college and the workforce. (Photo courtesy of Tri County Tech)

To help at-risk students successfully graduate and prepare for college and the work force, the Bartlesville Education Promise launched the Education Promise Program, a multi-part initiative that includes reading support for struggling elementary students; after-school tutoring for high school students; a summer academy to help students transition to a new school; ACT/PSAT test prep; and camps in Advanced Placement readiness, art and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). The program, which began in the 2015-16 school year, is sponsored by Bartlesville Education Promise, a foundation created in 2015 to support local schools.

"While Bartlesville has a wonderful school system, the community’s demographics have been changing,” said Martin Garber Jr., chairman of Bartlesville Education Promise, noting that about 50 percent of Bartlesville students qualify for free-and-reduced-lunch, 300 are deficient in English language capability and more than 400 are classified as homeless. “As a result, we are beginning to see a declining graduation rate. A principal objective of the Education Promise Program is to help improve the percentage of students that graduate.”         

In the 2015-16 school year, the foundation raised approximately $45,000 with support from individuals, businesses and foundations to fund activities benefiting more than 2,000 students. The program provided free books for at-risk elementary readers to take home and share with their families or a reading volunteer. At the high school level, the program offered teacher-led tutoring in English, math and science to 957 students, most of whom showed improvement in their grades after tutoring.

Transition camps were provided for 220 students going into middle school and high school to help reduce student stress and prepare students for the expectations of their new learning environment. The foundation partnered with the Lowe Family Foundation to present STEM camps serving 145 students. Classes addressed robotics, nursing, computers and had several guest speakers who spoke about STEM careers. In addition, six-week summer art camps staffed by district art teachers were held at the Boys and Girls Club and the Teen Center and culminated in a student art show.

In 2016-17, the foundation doubled the program’s budget to $90,000 and expanded in-school tutoring at the elementary and secondary levels, which included providing after-school transportation. The foundation also initiated a campaign to recruit and train community volunteers to work with students.

The Jenks Public Schools Foundation launched its Trojan 20 fundraising campaign to help support district programs and services that were threatened by cuts in state funding to public schools. The campaign, held in spring 2016, was designed to cultivate small donations on a large scale by inviting families and the community members to donate $20 for each Trojan (student) in the district. For those able to give more, the following donation levels were suggested: $100 for Our Friends, $500 for Our Classmates and $1,000 for Our Teachers.

Jenks Public Schools Foundation distributed postcards like this one to promote the Trojan 20, a fundraising campaign that raised more than $214,000, primarily through small donations of $20 or more, to help support district services threatened by state education funding cuts.

“The objective of the campaign was to provide funding support for instructional costs that were in jeopardy due to the current state revenue crisis,” said Mary Moeller, Jenks Public Schools director of professional development, who nominated the program. “Specifically, the funds were meant to bolster school site budgets, instructional supplies and equipment, and professional development for instructional staff.”

Trojan 20 was promoted through social media, parent-teacher associations, school sites, building marquees, school newsletters and e-news blasts. The campaign was launched with a video from Superintendent Stacey Butterfield and several elementary students and became the most viewed JPS video in 2016. The foundation created a campaign web page at, where donors could give online. Supporters also had the opportunity to donate via Text to Give, school site drop-off boxes and through mail.

In a short time, more than 1,600 gifts poured into the Jenks Public Schools Foundation from students, parents, teachers, grandparents, alumni and community members. The Trojan 20 campaign raised $214,898, which included a generous donation from the Tulsa Teachers Credit Union Support Our Schools (SOS) fundraising campaign.

“The Trojan 20 campaign spearheaded by the Jenks Public Schools Foundation was critical in meeting site needs this year,” said Jenks High School Principal David Beiler. “The Trojan 20 funds enabled us to meet our staff’s professional development requests and to operate our site and still deliver core services and meet the needs to support our students and staff. We could not have had as successful a year without their support.”

The Inola Educational Enrichment Foundation joined forces with the Inola Chamber of Commerce in July 2016 to host the Black & Gold Gala benefiting Inola Public Schools, which serves approximately 1,300 students.

Samantha DeBoar (second from left), Inola Chamber of Commerce president, joins stylists from Salon 7 (from left) Ashton Olivier, Taylor Walker, Nicole Yoder and Karen Froese at Inola’s Black & Gold Gala, a formal gala fundraiser co-sponsored by the Inola Educational  Enrichment Foundation and the Inola Chamber of Commerce. The event, which included silent and live auctions, raised more than $15,000 for classroom supplies, teacher grants and senior scholarships.  

“With budget cuts in education and our school district going to a four-day week, the community joined together with our foundation to help our school administration, teaching staff and students,” said Rosalie Griffith, foundation president.

The Black & Gold Gala was a formal event that featured entertainment, hors d’ oeuvres, and both live and silent auctions. Admission to the gala was free of charge, with proceeds generated through auction items and donations. The Riverbend Arena in Inola hosted the event, waiving the ballroom rental fee and providing decorations and even helping secure some auction items. Attendees wore festive black and gold formal attire.

The Inola Independent newspaper helped promote the gala event, and invitations were sent out to all school district employees, chamber members and others in the community. Local businesses and individuals donated more than 30 unique items and services for the auction, ranging from lawn care, photography and travel excursions to a pot belly pig, a truckload of topsoil and dinner for 10 with Sherriff Scott Walton. There were also gardening and auto detailing workdays provided by Inola sports teams and homemade monthly and weekly meals.

Auction proceeds and donations at the event exceeded $15,000, which went to support classroom supplies, teacher grants and scholarships for high school seniors. “The response exceeded our expectations,” Griffith said. “Because someone had a great idea and pulled strong people together, our district has benefited.”

Charla Vaught, a retired teacher and board member of the Wagoner Education Foundation, displays a quilt she made to auction off as part of the foundation’s 2017 Fashion Show Fundraiser. The fashion show, which includes a luncheon and silent auction, raised more than $13,000 to support local schools. 

The Fashion Show Fundraiser, the primary annual benefit event sponsored by the Wagoner Education Foundation Inc., has grown substantially since it first began in 2011 and has become a much-loved community event to celebrate and support local schools.

“This event, which includes a fashion show, light meal and silent auction, has evolved into one of the most anticipated and most successful fundraiser social events in our community,” said Charla Vaught, a retired Wagoner Public Schools teacher who nominated the program.

The first fashion show drew nearly 80 participants and raised $800.  The event has grown steadily each year and is now held at the First Baptist Church Activity Center. Local businesses supply fashions and accessories, which are now modeled by Wagoner Public School teachers. “This spring, male teachers were also included as models, which proved to be a big hit with the crowd,” Vaught said.

Local businesses and individuals are encouraged to support the foundation financially and with items for the silent auction.  Area artists donate silent auction items, including paintings, jewelry, sculpture and fabric arts. For the past three years, a retired teacher has designed and created a Wagoner Bulldogs quilt, which is sold in a live auction as a grand finale of the evening. A team of retired teachers and other community members donate their time each year to prepare a meal for the event. 

With a combination of ticket sales, silent auction proceeds and donations, this year’s Fashion Show Fundraiser raised almost $13,000, well exceeding the goal of $10,000. “This annual fundraiser has done much to educate our community about the Wagoner Education Foundation and its purposes,” Vaught said. “It has been an encourager for our local teachers and schools who have gone through many financial cuts during the past several years. The fact that the fundraiser grew from an income of $800 six years ago to an income of almost $13,000 proves that it is a successful endeavor.”

The Outstanding Program Awards are presented 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.

For more information on this year’s Outstanding Program Award winners or the Fall Forum, contact Donna Alexander at (405) 834-9049 or email