What is the education foundation and what purpose
does it serve in Estes Schools?
The Estes Park Education Foundation (EPEF) is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation that will work to inspire community investment through exemplary student learning experiences today to develop our citizens tomorrow. With the support of our community and a high quality education, all Estes Park school District R-3 students will graduate as thriving, successful, responsible citizens. (Mission and Vision Statements).
The Estes Park Education Foundation provides supplemental funds for innovative educational ideas, which otherwise may not be supported due to lack of state funding (Estes Park School District is currently ranked 108 out of 178 in Colorado for per-pupil funding) and/or other constraints for the district, including more flexibility in acquiring and dispensing funds. Funds raised by and for the Foundation enhance the school district revenues provided by taxpayers, state aid, and other public funding sources. Additionally, the EPEF generates community involvement and highlights the many accomplishments of the Estes Park School District and its students.
Why does a school district see a need for a foundation to support it's schools?
An education foundation compliments and supports the work already being done in a school district by bringing in the community stakeholders, educating them on what the district is doing, and drawing support in funding pursuits to allow for grants and scholarships to the students and programs in the district.
The Foundation is intended to enhance and complement rather than replace funding for the Estes Park School District. The Foundation realizes that there is an intense gap in state funding for Colorado schools and looks to help fill that void.
How will the foundation further help the development of schools?
The EPEF will look to community and financial support of the district’s mission, vision, beliefs, and values through the EPEF’s established education pillars (values):
Experiential Learning Opportunities - to give students knowledge, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills
Innovations in Learning - to support new teaching ideas and strategies to strengthen learning
Building Community - to promote a culture of seamless unity between the schools and the rest of the community to optimize learning
Support of District Teachers and Staff - by providing supplemental assistance as well as appreciation for the work that they do for our students
Student Support - to ensure that they have the resources needed to participate in public schooling and extra-curricular activities, as well as support for early childhood education and transitioning after graduation
Wellness - as an integral part of learning and being successful in school and life, including physical activities, youth sports, and outdoor recreation
What will the relationship between the foundation and the school district look like?
The EPEF is an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The Board of Directors will work closely with the Foundation Liaison Director, Sheldon Rosenkrance, Superintendent of Schools.
The current steering committee is recruiting board members now to help align what that big picture looks like.
What oversight is in place to determine how the foundation's funds are appropriated?
Alignment with and advancing the EPEF Mission and Vision shall be driving force for appropriating funding. Estes Park School District employees and students are eligible and encouraged to apply for grants and/or scholarships from EPEF. Requests should include integration through one of the education pillars or values as outlined in the EPEF bylaws. Overall, the students enrolled in the Estes Park School District exclusively benefit from EPEF grants, either indirectly or directly. Indirectly, the community at large will benefit from the improved educational experience of Estes Park School District students.
The EPEF has included a financial oversight policy and procedure in their policy manual on their website at: https://www.epeducationfoundation.org/policy-manual (page 46).
We already have local nonprofits donating to the schools.
Why do we need another one?
Some nonprofits have time and/or topic restrictions as to when grants are available. The EPEF can be more agile and nimble in providing funding. We have the ability to fund programs/projects that might not otherwise be funded. Who knows when a very good educational idea is going to come along, and it would be a shame for the idea to die because it didn’t fit a funding cycle or if a school budget didn’t have room to fund new innovative ideas with potential.
Every great educational tool we have now started as an idea. Additionally, a bigger role EPEF fills is to raise awareness as to school district needs and then work to secure additional resources to fund needed programs. School personnel are busy educating our children and simply don’t have the capacity, expertise, or ability that we do. We are working for our students by championing needs and raising funds that benefit students.
Why not donate to Estes Park Schools directly?
As a tax-exempt organization, the school (or school district) can accept gifts from donors.
Some donors prefer to, or can only, make contributions to a 501(c)(3), and that’s where the EPEF can help. Additionally, the school budget/funding process is fairly long, tight, and not so flexible. A bigger role the EPEF fills is to raise awareness as to school district needs and then work to secure additional resources to fund needed programs.
School personnel are busy educating our children and simply don’t have the capacity, expertise, or ability that we do. We are working for our students by championing needs and raising funds that benefit students.
I want to donate funds for the band.
Can I do that and know that the money will only go toward that end?
Yes, the EPEF does accept donor-directed/restricts gifts if they align with and advance EPEF's Mission and Vision via our Pillars and are within our capacity to manage. A special account will be created and funds can carry over - we don't have to spend down each year.
Those donations, like all gifts, will be subject to EPEF's policies. Know that funds designated for a specific project under a Pillar shall be transferred to the general fund to be used at the discretion of the Board if:
The purpose of the project no longer aligns with EPEF’s Mission and Vision.
The account is inactive for five (5) consecutive years with no plans to reactivate it.
Unless there are plans for a major expenditure, if the balance in the account exceeds two times the median expenditures for that project in the past five years, the excess above the median expenditure will be transferred to the general fund. Hopefully this will help you to understand why EPEF's preference is to have undesignated donations to allow the Board the flexibility to disperse funds as needed.