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Summer 2022

Letter from the Association Administrator

The NAEF Board of Directors welcomes individuals who would like to serve the organization. Volunteers are currently needed on the Programs, Marketing, Membership, and Sponsorship Committees.

As a volunteer, you will have the opportunity to reconnect with colleagues, network with other foundation leaders, and contribute to the success of the NAEF. Most of all, this is a valuable opportunity to gain leadership knowledge and experience.So help us help you reap the benefits of a NAEF volunteer!


We want volunteers who are hard-working, passionate, enthusiastic, and reliable. To be eligible, you must maintain an active NAEF membership.

What is Expected of a Volunteer?

Volunteers will be asked to participate in monthly 30-minute committee calls, bring forth ideas and suggestions, and assist with the implementation of action items.

Volunteers – Committees

  • Programs: Develop a cohesive strategy to provide educational opportunities to meet the needs of our members, regardless of platform [IE: in-person, online].
  • Marketing: Develop a strategic marketing plan to support the efforts of the NAEF and its committees through various platforms [IE: Website, Social Media, e-Newsletters, and Broadcasts].

  • Membership: Perform outreach and connect with education foundation leaders to recruit as members, assist to on-board new members, and follow-up with members during the renewal process.
  • Sponsorship: Develop and identify a comprehensive sponsorship program which supports the efforts of NAEF.

How to Apply

Simply email me and be sure to include your preferred committee choice. If you're not sure of your preferred committee participation, call us at 410-527-0780. We will be happy to help match your skills and talents with the appropriate committee.

Public School Foundations are an Essential Part of the Funding Puzzle

By: Juliet Buder and Allison Witter Frey

A recent Seattle Times editorial, “School levies are a Band-Aid for stable, equitable K-12 funding” [Jan. 28, Opinion], highlights issues in Washington state regarding equitable funding of our public school system. The board’s opinion — that current levies on the ballot are subsidizing the failure of the state Legislature to uphold its own constitutional obligation to fully-fund public K-12 education — was insightful, giving attention to underfunding issues Washington has been struggling with for over 10 years.

That said, there was one significant funding source omitted from the conversation: public school foundations. The many foundations found in districts across King County should be acknowledged when talking about the full funding picture of many public schools.

In districts like Seattle, Issaquah, Everett, Edmonds, Mercer Island, Renton, Shoreline, Bainbridge, Lake Washington, Bellingham, Auburn, Edmonds, Northshore, and Bellevue, school foundations exist for the sole purpose of bridging a funding gap that exists in our public school system. Without foundation funding, students and educators could be left without the arts, computer science, early learning, teacher certifications and the opportunity to pilot innovative — and vital — new programs.

The first foundation dedicated to supporting public K-12 initiatives in Washington state, the Bellevue Schools Foundation, has been an integral part of Bellevue schools’ innovation. Bellevue schools Deputy Superintendent Melissa deVita notes, “The Bellevue Schools Foundation not only provides funding to support innovation and new programs, much of which could not be pursued without their funding, but it also provides a strong link between the district and the community at large. There is something positive to be said about a community that voluntarily invests in our schools.”

Since its inception, BSF has raised more than $37,000,000, providing myriad programs such as culturally-responsive literature libraries in classrooms, preschool tuition assistance, enhanced computer science curriculum and innovation grants, allowing teachers to spark creativity in learning within their individual classrooms.

With the pandemic anxiety and interruption in learning, educational foundations in Washington have felt the funding crunch. Many donors could or would not continue donating because of economic hardship, frustration at the COVID-19 response and virtual learning environments, or other stressors. Yet BSF has been able to pivot nimbly, making significant, targeted donations to families in crisis, while continuing support for programming like districtwide mental-health support and suicide prevention, key to combating rising adolescent suicide rates.

All sources of funding are imperative to students as the roles and responsibilities of schools and education change with the times. In addition to federal funding, and state and local levies, the role of school foundations must be acknowledged. With the challenges of the pandemic, the ubiquitous nature of technology, and the growing support students need to maintain well-being, entities like BSF have been imperative to the academic success of nearly 20,000 students.

Until the Legislature can fully fund schools, levies and bonds will continuously need to be renewed to keep the schools standing and staffed. But even with these renewals, school foundations will continue to be called upon to bridge funding gaps, ensuring students receive the education they need — and deserve — to thrive.

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About the Authors

Allison Witter Frey,
Board of Trustees of the Bellevue Schools Foundation

Originally from San Francisco Bay Area, Allison was raised in a family philosophy that giving back to the community was paramount to being a good citizen. For the last 14 years, through her involvement with the Dean Witter Foundation, Allison has honored that family tradition by investing in nonprofits in California and her new home in Washington state. 

Allison serves as President of the Dean Witter Foundation and the Bellevue Schools Foundation, and holds various board and committee seats on local PTSAs, KEXP, and the Regional Olympic Board for NatureBridge.  Now she is a freelance journalist and content strategist, and is slowly working on her first book, a collection of personal essays. 

Allison graduated from Boston College with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Woman’s Studies. She currently resides on the Eastside near Seattle, with her husband, Roger, and three kids.

Juliet Buder
Executive Director,
Bellevue Schools Foundation

Originally from Virginia, Juliet graduated from Duke University with a degree in Public Policy and went on to learn the art and science of fundraising at Equal Justice Works, a legal nonprofit in Washington, D.C. 

After earning her Master’s in Social Work, Juliet devoted her career to developing strategic partnerships for public, private, and community-based organizations committed to closing the opportunity gap. She has had roles of increasing responsibility at nonprofits in Washington, D.C. and New York City, including Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Oliver Scholars, and Abaarso Network. Juliet’s leadership of the Bellevue Schools Foundation harnesses private support to secure a world-class education for all students in Bellevue’s public schools, regardless of socioeconomic status. 

About the Author

Lance Swanson
Director of Communications and Foundation
Cardinal Education Foundation

Small Legacies
By: Lance Swanson

I had the pleasure to attend the NAEF (National Association of Education Foundations) National Conference thanks to Zoom and the SOCIO app. This certainly wasn’t the first conference I have attended online, but I think it was the best virtual conference experience I’ve had. I think this was due to the many hours of work and planning that went into making it happen. I was so proud to see many of the planners and presenters were from Nebraska and members of our very own NAPSF. The work that NAEF has been doing over the last couple years to re-establish and create a sustainable model has certainly been worth the work. A special congratulations goes to Traci Skalberg on assuming the Chair and the same to Toba Cohen-Dunning as she moves to Past Chair. The success of NAPSF is in large part due to the hard work of these individuals. I personally know they are always willing to help and no matter the question, they take time to respond. I know others have similar experiences with them as well.There were a few others from our very own NAPSF that presented or helped during this conference and I want to thank them as well. It was such a pleasure to learn new things, steal a few ideas and get re-inspired for future plans.

I just finished reading The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles and there are some takeaways from this book that I found ironic and/or relevant to share with you. I should mention here that I don’t have time to read much, but thanks to my Kindle App I am able to read on my phone here and there when I can. I am amazed at how much time I am stuck just waiting during a typical day or week. I find time while at the dentist, waiting for a meeting to start or waiting at the ballgame. I’ve even read while standing in line at the store or to buy tickets. I really enjoy reading and consider it a way to stay sane. Rather than sit or stand there and stress about the million things I have to do and get impatient, I am able to recharge a little bit. Anyways, back to this book, there was one concept that really stood out to me. The book starts out in Nebraska and is centered around the young characters learning the values of friendship, loyalty and perseverance as they go on an escapade across the countyy. The thing that stands out the most to me was the little legacies sprinkled throughout the book. I think too often we feel like legacies have to be large, but the little legacies mentioned in the book were more in the form of advice, small stories, lessons and little meaningful gifts. There were recipes handed down and an heirloom watch that was thoughtfully given just to name a few. Even a medallion was put around the neck on someone as a symbol of how much they love and trust them, but the real magical power is in the belief. Wearing that medallion around their neck sends that individual out into the world with extra confidence and an assurance that an entire team is supporting them.

I think the classroom mini grants that we offer through our foundation are also little legacies in the making. What a wonderful way our community gets involved and it not only makes a difference, but sprinkles all these little legacies that come together to make a big impact. This is something the giver gets to experience or see without a long wait. By seeing how much impact a mini-classroom type grant can make, it hopefully will lead to a larger more permanent financial legacy. These small legacies are ways we can attract, shape and grow our database. Our teachers and others find our mini classroom grants empowering and they even hang the grant announcement posters on their walls. These are simple little certificates or posters I make when we announce the grant winners, but they mean so much more to the teachers because we are entrusting them with a little cash, like our own medallion of trust.

Many major legacy gifts to nonprofits are made not while the grantee can see or bask in the results or success, but comes posthumously, through wills, living trusts and other beneficiary designations. I love how these little legacies allow us to celebrate and share the power of the gifts now. We have seen that as school foundations continue to get out of the scholarship business. The scholarships for graduates are great, but in most cases they just carry the money out of the community and the local school rarely sees the payoff.

The leadership of those I get to learn and look up to, especially from NAPSF, need to know they have left a special legacy. I want them to know now that it was worth it and we appreciate them. Thanks for the little and big legacies!

Above and Beyond

By: Eric Clark

The education system of the United States has been dealt a heavy blow with the COVID 19 pandemic.  Who would have ever imagined that schools would be closed for months at time, daily temperature checks, masks, social distancing, and other preventative measures.  At times it seems surreal and that it was all a bad dream and we will be waking soon.  However, it is only too real and the consequences will be felt now and in the future.

Local education foundations have been called upon to offer support to school districts in areas that have never before been approached.  It is encouraging that many local education foundations rolled up their sleeves and took on a larger role in their respective school’s districts.  This is a true testament to the dedication and willingness to help.

It was the ability to bring the business community and the school districts together that was one of the major achievements of education foundations.  In Florida, our sixty plus educational foundations did numerous projects, events, and programs by leveraging their relationship within their local communities.  It was a time that education foundation was able to demonstrate to local school districts the important role that they play in the educational system.  We are very fortunate to have a statewide partner, the Consortium for Florida Education Foundations (CFEF), that has been a tremendous conduit of resources, advice, and guidance to local education foundations.  The CFEF is a model that should be explored by any state that wants an effective education foundation system.

The professional staff and the board volunteers never wavered when faced when some of the challenges that they were facing on a daily basis.  Foundation staff were asked by district personnel to assist with food distribution, substitute teach, mask distributions, and numerous other activities.  Foundation staff rolled up their sleeves and did what was necessary to ensure that the young people in their school districts were receiving the best support possible.

As the mandatory wearing of face mask became a major issue in the state of Florida, education foundations had to remain a political neutral entity to ensure that no perceived bias was being displayed by them.  This was difficult when some local school districts did not follow state mandated directives and were the subject of stern reprimands from the Florida Department of Education.  True to their missions, the education foundations did not get involved in the political fighting and continued to focus on what was best for the students that they were serving.

The current state of education is in a game of catch-up that will be difficult to achieve.  Some students did not attend a normal classroom for almost two years.  While virtual learning was available for many students, those who were already experiencing academic problems were dramatically affected.  It will take several years and many additional resources and techniques to get some of these students to a level playing field.  Summer enrichment programs, intensive tutoring, specialized learning software, and other strategies will be a must.  I am confident that education foundations will step up to the plate and do what is necessary to assist their school districts in meeting these new challenges.

With the rise in the number of charter schools, local public-school districts are experiencing a loss of students as well as being affected monetarily.  It is a difficult position for education foundations that they must navigate.  In Florida, many education foundations are direct support organizations for the local school district.  They were established to support the public school district.  This is a dynamic that can create tension in some communities in regards to whether the education foundation should support the charter schools.  At this time, it appears to be handled by education foundation in differing manners based upon the leadership of the foundation and its board of directors.

The relationship between school districts and education foundations has in many instances never been stronger.  It was the need to collaborate and share resources that brought many districts and education foundations much closer.  This has created an opportunity for education foundations to be viewed as a valuable resource with specific expertise that school districts know they can rely on now and in the future.  It is imperative that both sides continue to communicate and have open dialogue with one another.  The main focus should be to do whatever is necessary to best benefit the students.  At the end of the day that is all that is really important.

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About the Author

Eric Clark
Executive Director
Foundation for Leon County Schools

Eric Clark has over 30 years of nonprofit experience.  Originally from southwest Virginia, he has called Tallahassee home the past 8 years.

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About the Author