During the 1986 school year, the Park City Education Foundation was established to help raise scholarship money for local seniors graduating from high school. According to Jen Billow, PCEF Communications Manager, a lot has changed for the non-profit organization over the years, and people in the community who are not familiar with the work she and the PCEF are doing for the 4,500 public school students in Park City.
Every year, the PCEF divvies up funds among a variety of grants to the teachers and schools in the Park City School District to fund new programs and teaching techniques proposed by PCSD faculty and staff. In order to allocate money that is raised in the private sector appropriately, the PCEF Teacher Grants' 16-member board Committee combs through a flood of requests ranging from PCHS Robotics Club Engineering after school programs, and money used to send students to national competitions.
This year, nearly $180,000 in school site grants is being awarded to the PCSD by the foundation. Throughout the year, the organization holds a number of events and relies on parents and people of the community to raise money to support the many activities and resources needed by students every year.
“We are passionate about education and really believe strongly that every child deserves the chance to be the best they can be,” Billow said. “When we touch an entire school district and help make resources and opportunities available like we do, it is huge and makes such a meaningful difference.”
Billow explained that the foundation has three separate grant sections which are used to categorize the different requests that come in throughout the year. The three grant categories are: Teachers, District and the recently awarded School Site grants.
Teacher Grants give educators the opportunity to present the foundation with ideas and materials they feel are needed in the approaching school year. A few of the programs funded from last year included: French Dual Immersion Library (providing Jeremy Ranch Elementary with $2,322 to purchase books), World Geography (Parley's Park Elementary received $1,000 after requested $3,015 for relevant geographic informational text) and FIRST Lego League after School Program (Ecker Middle School received $4,500 to help fund this academic program). The PCEF awarded $48,257 in Teacher Grants for the 2012-2013 school year throughout the district.
District Grants are designed to help school programs, training and technology upgrades in the district as a whole. Some of the programs that received funds from last year include: Latinos in Action ($1,485 was awarded to the Park City High School program to defray start-up costs for a scholarship program), Gifted and Talented Mentoring Program ($10,000 was awarded to the Treasure Mountain Junior High program) and Success Maker/ Compass ($20,000 for the math software needed by Trailside Elementary). In the 2012-2013 school year, the PCEF funded $150,000 in school site grants.
The PCEF holds a number of fundraisers throughout the year to help raise money for their cause. Events include, Author in Residence, Red Apple Gala, Beat the Call Contest and the Phone-A-Thon.
The foundation's approaching spring fundraiser is the 4th annual “Running with Ed”. The 38-mile, 10 leg race traversing through Park City has become a major community event with over 2,000 participants raising $130,000 last year, affirmed Billow.
Billow added, last year's “Red Apple Gala” raised $340,000, and is still the leading fundraiser the foundation holds throughout the year.
The foundation raised $800,000 last year through their efforts. Despite the impressive total, Billow argues that to reach the overall goal of $1-million the organization needs more parent involvement.
“Every year we try to raise the bar a little bit higher and in order to do this, we need more parent participation,” Billow said. “At this point we have 40-percent of parents donating to the foundation. Six years ago we only had 5 percent, so getting to 90 percent is what we are hoping for. If we are able to make that mark, all of the events we hold during the year will be icing on the cake.”
To find out ways to can donate money or to find a list of upcoming charitable events, visit the PCEF website at www.pcef4kids.org.