Dec 10, 2012 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The Skaneateles Education Foundation is looking to accomplish big things — even bigger than they already have in four years of existence.
With that in mind, SEF board members recently held a weekend strategy retreat at Welch Allyn to set out the organization’s vision as to where it will be in 2020 and how it can better accomplish its mission to solicit and manage charitable contributions and bequests for the benefit of student education.
“The retreat really gave us an opportunity to think outside of the box and allow ourselves to dream big and to say ‘This is what we would like to be able to be doing for the schools seven years from now,’” said Sharon Magee, SEF executive director.
The Foundation raises funds to help support academics in the Skaneateles schools by contributing to curriculum development and enhancement of resources. Teachers or district officials apply for grants from the Foundation for specific academic projects. To date, the SEF has contributed more than $50,000 to the Skaneateles district for educational items or classes that otherwise would not have been funded.
The Nov. 3-4 strategy retreat was attended by about 80 percent of the SEF board of directors, as well as Skaneateles Board of Education Vice President Kathryn Carlson, the BOE liaison. Both days activities were led by former Welch Allyn CEO Julie Shimer, who has long experience facilitating such strategic retreats, Magee said.
The result of the retreat was the identification of three main outcomes for the future of the Foundation.
The first outcome was the desire to fund larger grants in the future, said SEF President Chris Bailey. SEF grants typically run to a few thousand dollars, depending on the project, but the possibility of bigger grants could hopefully go to tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Some large-scale donors might have a passion for science and technology, media or literature, that they want to funnel funds to us to focus on those specific areas,” Bailey said. The Foundation will not stop giving out smaller grants, just expanding to include bigger grants, he said.
The second outcome was a decision to plan for long-term stability and sustainability of the organization, potentially with the establishment of a multi-million-dollar endowment fund.
The final outcome was the determination to better communicate with the local community the outcomes of the grants given by the SEF, how they impact children and education, and how they “change lives,” Magee said. “We haven’t been doing a great job with that. At some point you have to look at how the grants impact the actual experience of the students,” she said.
“They’re very committed to going ahead with this,” Carlson told the BOE at its Dec. 5 meeting, while giving a report on her attendance at the retreat. She said the SEF will be working together closely with the school board as it moves forward with its future vision plans.
Bailey agreed, saying the SEF and BOE have a more “direct relationship” in recent years, especially since Interim Superintendent Judy Pastel came to the district this past summer. “We’re two separate groups but we partner hand-in-hand,” Bailey said.
Carlson also told the BOE that the Foundation is now undertaking a grant project that will be largest in its history, based on a grant request by the district administration and faculty.
Magee said it was too early to release the details of the grant, but more information will be released soon.
“We’ve got still a lot of homework to do so I can’t give a lot of details right now,” Magee said of both the major grant and the overall future objectives for the SEF. “This is the start of a roadmap for us. Now we need time to chart away the goals, and once we do that we can give more details and specifics. In general, the retreat was much more about ideas and less about how to do it — it was about what we want to do over a much longer range of time.”
For more information about the Skaneateles Education Foundation, visit skanedfoundation.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.