BC Chamber Member Spotlight: Baldwin Education Foundation
Your contribution touches the learning experience of every student in the Baldwin School District
Public schools in the United States are faced with increasing demands and diminishing returns. Decreasing or uncertain financial support from public sources requires communities to look for supplemental funding resources. Baldwin City is fortunate to have an outstanding education foundation. The Baldwin Education Foundation (BEF) was formed in 2003 by former USD 348 Superintendent, Jim White. The mission of BEF is “to support the students, faculty and staff of USD 348 and help them achieve excellence.”
According to Kathy Gerstner, Executive Director, BEF achieves its mission through a variety of activities. These include providing scholarships to graduating Baldwin High School Seniors and administering a grant program that every USD 348 educator may apply. Grant funding may be used to support innovative class projects and/or resources to enable learning success. Kathy says, “it is a joy watching the kids have the opportunity to engage in new activities provided by the grant programs.” Operational for the past 11 years, these grants have provided a positive learning impact in all USD 348 schools. Over the last five years, a total of $65,000 in grant funds have been distributed to classroom teachers.
Additionally, BEF partners with community leaders including The United Way of Douglas County, Douglas County Community Foundation (DCCF) and Baldwin State Bank. Working with DCCF, BEF initiated the “Back Snack Program” providing weekend food for children in grades K-5. BEF also partnered with Baldwin State Bank to generate revenue through the Bank’s Bulldog Card program whereby a portion of the credit card transaction fees are returned to the Baldwin Education Foundation.
Looking to the future, Kathy stresses the importance of BEF developing new initiatives that correspond to the changing demographics of the Baldwin City community as well as staying attune to the needs of the student population. One FY17 programming addition has been the direct allocation of a portion of BEF funds to each school. This enables the funds to be targeted to the most pressing need at each school. Kathy attributes BEF’s success to USD 348 residents’ commitment to supporting strong public schools and prioritizing education as a core community value.
The community can support BEF in a variety of ways from participating in BEF Bunco tournaments, providing sponsorship at the annual luncheon and making a monetary donation. Please join BEF in these activities and support our local schools!