East Grand Forks group re-launches to help schools

/ 4 May 2012 / jennifer

Pamela Knudson, Grand Forks Herald, May 4, 2012 –

Officials say foundation will fill in state funding gaps

The East Grand Forks Education Foundation is back in action after a 15-year hiatus, inspired by the strain on school budgets that it hopes to meet with an initial $100,000 fundraising effort.

“The financial stresses on school districts — the state legislature owes school districts $2 billion in back payments — that’s what really got us going,” said foundation Vice President Pat Jacklitch.

“This is a way to give back to our school and our community,” she said.

Superintendent David Pace said many Minnesota school districts, such as those in Thief River Falls and Fergus Falls, have responded to inadequate state funding in the same way. “Foundations are becoming more and more popular throughout the state.”

East Grand Forks had launched the foundation in 1993, raising some $250,000. But the Flood of 1997 and the recovery that followed took attention away from the effort, especially that of Mayor Lynn Stauss who led development of the foundation.

“The foundation sort of got lost in the shuffle of all that was going on,” Jacklitch said. “It just languished into ceasing to exist,”

Foundation organizers are hoping to get a kick start on their fundraising during the city’s 125th anniversary celebration this summer, which features an all-school reunion Aug. 8 to 12.

“We’re hoping to really tie into that and reconnect with a lot of alumni,” Jacklitch said. “We think they’ll be interested.”

Starting over

Work on the foundation began two years ago, and Pace said group members had to start from scratch because state rules concerning foundations had changed in the past 15 years.

The foundation didn’t have any assets either that it could use for the legal work needed to reorganize, Jacklitch explained in a news release. The money had been turned over to the school district as soon as it was raised and has since been used to upgrade technology, enhance programming and fund school-sponsored trips.

The reformed foundation will operate independent of the school district as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.

That is, it would retain the money it raises and its 10-member board would decide how to use the money. Two School Board members and a teacher sit on the foundation board as nonvoting members.

The board hopes to award its first grants this fall.

“We’re really excited about this foundation and opportunities for connections it will provide, not just financially but how it will strengthen ties between the community and the school district,” said foundation President Rebecca Gottberg.

“As your school goes, so goes your community,” Jacklitch said.

On the Web: For more info go to www.EGFEducationFoundation.org.


Reach Knudson at (701) 780-1107; (800) 477-6572, ext. 107; or send e-mail topknudson@gfherald.com.