POTSDAM - The Potsdam Educational Opportunities Fund (PEOF) was formally introduced to the community this week at a kick-off event that included speeches from the organizations chairman and several other dignitaries, all interested in helping to enhance and preserve educational opportunities for the districts students.
The Potsdam Educational Opportunities Fund, or PEOF, aims to raise money to enhance our childrens education, said Devon A. Shipp, who chairs the PEOF Advisory Committee. However, giving our kids the education they need these days is difficult and frustrating because of financial constraints. We hope that this wont always be the case in the future, but for the time being we have to live with this reality.
Mr. Shipp made it clear that PEOF is not in competition with other groups who offer support to the district and its programs.
We wish to support areas that fall outside the focus of these other fine groups and will work with them as much as possible, Mr. Shipp said, referring to the Booster Club, Music Friends and Sandstoner Foundation. We wish to support areas that fall outside the focus of these other fine groups and will work with them as much as possible.
Mr. Shipp explained that for this year PEOF has set $3,000 aside to fund a variety of teacher-submitted proposals through a competitive application process.
An informational handout explaining the fund explained how the funds would be awarded.
A panel composed of select members of the PEOF Advisory Committee, educators and administrators will review the proposals and recommend which proposals will be funded. Once decisions are made on which proposals to fund, money from PEOF will be used to support these activities, the handout stated.
Activities funded under this request for proposals must go beyond mandated curriculum and provide an enriched experience for the students. The structure and form these activities take are left to the creativity of the teachers and staff to develop. They may include, but are not limited to field trips, in class educational activities, class projects, extra-curricular activities, supplementation of career/academic and vocational guidance and advising, technology, professional development and/or training, etc.
Mr. Shipp noted the fund got off to a strong start when earlier this year an anonymous donation of up to $100,000 was announced.
That donation, which Mr. Shipp noted came from a couple who both graduated from Potsdam, came in the form of a challenge grant.
The couple, he said, has agreed to match dollar for dollar any donation to annual fund and two to one for any contribution to the funds endowment.
This very generous couple have allowed us to really shoot for the stars in our fundraising and given us a huge boost in getting us started. We have already raised $20,000 this year and have another $15,000 in commitments for 2013.
While the funds efforts are off to a strong start, Mr. Shipp noted there is still work to be done, with the challenge grant running out at the end of 2013.
There is still much work to be done by us and much support still needed from the Potsdam and school communities in order for the PEOF to enrich our childrens education and give them a great start in life, he said.
The fund is managed by The Northern New York Community Foundation (NNYCF), giving it 501(c)3 status and making all contributions to it tax deductible.
NNYCF Executive Director Rande S. Richardson said the PEOF is already becoming a model that other school districts from around the region are looking at, noting hes already received calls from several other school districts wanting to know whats going on in Potsdam.
Mr. Richardson also said hell be speaking at an upcoming BOCES board meeting to explain the model to them and how it may be used to help other school districts in the region.
SUNY Potsdam President John F. Schwaller also spoke at the event, noting the benefits of having a high-quality school district reach further than one might think.
Its absolutely essential to have a strong school system in the village, he said. When Clarkson is recruiting faculty and staff and when were recruiting faculty and staff, there is a great deal of interest in the public school system.
Clarkson President Tony Collins was unable to attend Thursdays event, but speaking on his behalf was Vice President of External Relations Kelly Chezum, who noted Clarkson University has already contributed to the fund.
This isnt just about providing support, its about the community, Ms. Chezum, said. Its a legacy to the Clarkson family who has been involved in this community since the founding of the village.
And while the fund now includes a cross-section of community members, Superintendent Patrick H. Brady noted Clarksons ties to the fund began even before the fund itself was created.
I was approached by several interested parents who were concerned about our school finances and the impact it was having on programs and opportunities for out children, he said. Since many of them worked at Clarkson University, they approached President Collins to see what collaboration could be developed to assist the school in these difficult times.
Mr. Brady continued, It is truly heartening to see this effort both here at school and in the community.
Those interested in donating to the fund may do so by sending checks made out to NNY Community Foundation to: NNY Community Foundation 120 Washington St. Suite 400; Watertown, NY 13601. Be sure to indicate on your check that the donation is for the Potsdam Educational Opportunities Fund and whether or not you would like to allocate your donation to the Endowment Fund or Annual Fund.
More information on the fund, including donor forms can be found on the districts website.
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