FYI: Education Foundations-Yes, We're Open.
As school districts close in the wake of growing health concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus, education foundations are open for business and should significantly increase outreach.
Education Foundations that support public school systems are more important now than ever before.
School districts are being forced to face instruction in a totally new and innovative way in the wake of a global pandemic. This could be both a rewarding and painful process during these unprecedented times. For many districts, there have been little or no transition strategies put in place.
Education foundations are nimble charitable organizations and provide the vehicle of support for engaging communities both financially and through awareness of the needs of the district.
COVID-19 and the protocol being recommended to suppress the contamination of the virus is nothing less than a disaster. But many districts have been through disasters, weathered those storms, and faced tremendous support and relief provided by the community. We know that education foundations play an important role during crisis. We have seen it time and time again, our nonprofits rising to meet challenges in our communities.
As districts look to differing means to resume educational instruction, foundations can support this effort and leverage donor opportunities.
Now is the time for education foundations to provide a call to action for donors to respond. School districts may be closed, but education foundations are open for business and should significantly increase outreach. A few examples of ways education foundations can engage donors and utilize donor funds to support the district include:
1. Providing resources for virtual instruction. Many districts have the capabilities, but may not have utilized it on a district wide basis. The foundation can help provide the necessary resources to scale this type of educational environment.
2. Convening businesses who may offer services like virtual instruction, professional development, or other applicable opportunities with the needs of the district. The education foundation can be the bridge of support between the district and a business. We as foundations know our business donors and the services they provide. This is a valuable resource for the district and the foundation can help navigate that partnership.
3. Providing local grocery store gift cards to families that rely on the district to provide meals to their children. Free and reduced meal plans for students occur when school is open. It is important that our students do not go hungry when the school district is closed. Funds for the district to purchase grocery store gift cards is a significant need.
4. Providing funding to scale technology hardware and software. Many districts have implemented the one to one ratio of technology support. Many districts do not have this ratio in place. The education foundation can provide funding for additional chrome books or technology tools for students to learn in their home environment.
The list will continue to grow as districts discover their specific needs. We stand ready as education foundations to provide the support to help our district and our community through this disaster. Let us not be complacent.
Although this situation provides unwanted repercussions, as education foundations, we can be the convener of our local school district, the community, the students, and others to bind together, thinking smarter and building upon our educational opportunities through innovative and wonderful new approaches.
Laurie Cromwell, CFRE
President, Foundation Innovation