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Friday Focus: The Spotsylvania Education Foundation

By Monica Meinert • May 1, 2015

The Spotsylvania Education Foundation provides support and recognition for innovative programs that have a lasting impact on students of all ages. For this week’s Friday Focus, we spoke with president Carl Ingebretsen, who shared the organization’s story and information on how you can support the Foundation as part of the Community Give on May 5.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: Education is the key that unlocks the door of opportunity. It is the great economic equalizer. It is the tool that will eliminate racism, bigotry, and intolerance in our society and around the world. Teachers need to guide students as they grow intellectually and provide educational opportunities that prepare students for jobs that do not yet exist, technologies that have not yet been invented, and to solve problems we do not yet know are problems. The Spotsylvania Education Foundation is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization committed to strengthening quality of instructional programs, enhancing the quality of student learning and recognizing excellence in education in Spotsylvania County.

The Foundation sponsors the following programs

  • Spotsylvania Endowment for Educational Development (SEED) Grants: SEED grants are available to any employee of Spotsylvania County Public Schools for financial assistance for an activity that enhances professional growth.
  • Innovatively Developed Educational Activity (IDEA) Grants: IDEA grants fund proposals from teachers that creatively and innovatively engage our children and enrich the learning experience of Spotsylvania students, uniquely achieve Spotsylvania County Public Schools’ curricular goals, strengthen students’ personal development and/or encourage links with the community in their schools or classrooms.
  • SAGE Banquet: The SAGE Award Banquet is held annually to recognize excellence in teaching by honoring the Spotsylvania County Public Schools’ Teachers of the Year, Mentors of the Year and New Teachers of the Year.

In the ten years since the Spotsylvania Education Foundation has been formed, we have provided over $300,000 in IDEA grants for classroom innovation, over $25,000 in Continuing Education Grants (SEED) to teachers and staff and sponsored the yearly Sage Banquet for Spotsylvania County Teachers of the Year. Our current goals are: (1) Develop a strong partnership with community businesses and other nonprofit organizations to support and expand student learning experiences, classroom innovation, professional development and recognition of teaching excellence; (2) Expand the impact of current grant programs and establish new self-sufficient/endowed programs that are student focused; and (3) Maximize the impact of communication with the community, parents, teachers, and staff to establish a network of volunteers, sponsors, and friends of the Spotsylvania Education Foundation that recognize the importance of education in building a vibrant community.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: The excitement of teachers who receive an IDEA Grant. This year, Shannon McKay of Chancellor Middle School’s IDEA was called “Everybody Loves Clay!” which helped purchase a kiln. Shannon noted that without a kiln, clay is just decomposing dirt. With a kiln, clay can become a valuable piece of artwork that can survive for thousands of years! With a kiln, her students will have access to the clay medium and learn how to use a potter’s wheel, experiment with hand-building, create functional and decorative ceramics, learn how to mix glazes and also enjoy actually using their own functional artwork.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Maximizing the impact of communication with the community, parents, teachers and staff to establish a network of volunteers, sponsors and friends of the Spotsylvania Education Foundation that recognize the importance of education in building a vibrant community. The Foundation is still learning to navigate the role and impact of social media, but still follow the guidelines established by Spotsylvania County Public Schools.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: The countdown to midnight, Tuesday, May 5, 2015, which starts the 24-hour time frame of the Community Give, has begun. Consider the Spotsylvania Education Foundation for a charitable gift during this one-day event celebrating a community spirit of generosity. Your tax deductible gift will have a huge impact on the student learning experience in Spotsylvania County by supporting the Foundation’s mission of encouraging classroom innovation, professional development and excellence in teaching. The Foundation pledges to set aside 100% of donated gifts from the Community Give to increase the number of IDEA Grants awarded for classroom innovation, match SEED Grant donations from teachers in support of professional development, help cover the costs of the SAGE Banquet and establish a new endowed program that is student-focused. These initiatives can only be accomplished with your support. We want to develop mutually beneficial relationships with businesses and individuals who recognize the importance of excellent schools in a growing and vibrant community.

All donations for the Community Give must be made via debit card or credit card through www.TheCommunityGive.org. The Community Foundation accepts MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and American Express. The minimum gift is $10 with no maximum limit. Prizes for nonprofit organizations are awarded for gifts of $25 or more. Throughout the day, there are bonus contests such as random drawings and cash prizes that allow participating nonprofits to raise even more money to support their missions. All donors will receive an immediate acknowledgement and tax receipt from The Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region via the email address you provide at the time of your donation. Please print and save your receipt for your records. The Community Foundation is a devoted advocate for the vitality and well-being of the Rappahannock River Region.   Specifically, The Community Foundation manages and distributes charitable giving in the counties of Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, and Caroline as well as the City of Fredericksburg.

Plan now to play golf with the Spotsylvania Education Foundation on Monday, June 29, 2015. This golf tournament is an important fundraiser for the Foundation and is the financial foundation for the work we perform for the Spotsylvania County Public Schools. By supporting a team or participating in this great team-building event, you are helping to spur innovation and encourage excellence in education. We hope to see you at the Fawn Lake Country Club for the Foundation’s 9th annual tournament. Gather up your team now and commit to our schools. Sponsorships start at $1,000, and teams of four are $500. Your morning consists of a continental breakfast, 18-holes of golf on the Fawn Lake Country Club’s Arnold Palmer-designed course, and a catered lunch in the club house. Contact Lisa Lambert at 540-834-2500 ext 1147 or llambert@spotsylvania.k12.va.us for more information.

Our new fiscal year starts in July and the focus at the beginning of the school year is to gather community support for IDEA grants. Last year 47 grant proposals were received, but only 11 proposals were funded. The Foundation would love to have the community adopt proposals through our “Adopt an IDEA” campaign. Fund an IDEA the interests you, a school near your home, or a teacher that excites your child. Your tax deductible adoption can partially or fully fund an IDEA proposal. If you are interested in supporting an IDEA, please contact us. If you would like more information about funding an IDEA grant, please contact Lisa Lambert via e-mail at llambert@spotsylvania.k12.va.us or by phone at 540-834-2500, extension 1147.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization? 

A: People can contact Carl Ingebretsen, President of the Spotsylvania Education Foundation at cingebretsen@verizon.net. We want the community; business leaders, parents, and educational professionals; to unite behind educational opportunity for our children. Visit the Foundation’s website at www.sef4education.org.