Planning Stage

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1) Identify the need for a foundation and prospective donors

Research suggests that somebody interested in establishing a school foundation must identify the need for this type of foundation in the community before initiating any major efforts. Schools or school districts can send questionnaires to members of the community in order to find out their opinion about the necessity of an educational foundation and also if they are willing to contribute to the success of the foundation. Parents, businesses, universities, alumni, local philanthropists can constitute prospective partners in the community. Clay et al. suggest undertaking a feasibility study the results of which will estimate the potential for contributions. It is also important to find out if similar organizations exist and operate in the community and their impact on the programs they support. When starting a foundation it is also important to consult the individuals that will be the target of the foundation’s programs. For example, a staff development project is likely to fail if only the superintendent and the school board are consulted about it and the teachers themselves, whose classroom behavior is targeted, are not consulted. (Muro, 1995,p8)

2) Initiators

Anyone concerned about promoting quality education can start a foundation; a member of the school board, a parent, a business leader, or a superintendent. However, concern does not suffice. The initiator must have relevant experience in education and fundraising. During the initial meetings, the initiator should involve school administration, get community support, identify issues to be addressed; use a testimonial (an expert from a successful educational foundation), and establish a bank account for funds to be used to establish the foundation.

3) The format of the foundation

During the initial planning, one must decide if the foundation will serve the district or only a particular school. Some argue that funding can be easier to attract at a district level. The foundation can be established as a trust or as a non-profit corporation, a more common format.

4) The design team

Establishing a foundation requires time, work and dedication. A design team is absolutely necessary in the planning stage. This team could have as members the initiator, business owner, alumni school board members, and school personnel (the principal, the vice principal, the superintendent, etc.). It is important to involve people who have worked within the community.

5) Statement of purpose and objectives

Before functioning, the foundation must define its purpose. The purpose has a global meaning (i.e. to advance literacy in the community, to promote quality education, to encourage athletic performance). The objectives are the expression of the purpose in specific terms. The objectives will state the projects (in a school or district) the foundation considers for funding. Here are some examples of statements of purpose:

"The Culver City Education Foundation is a charitable nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and enhancing quality educational programs for every student in the Culver City Unified School District. To accomplish our mission, the foundation reaches out to the community to secure funds and resources."

“It is the mission of the Fullerton School District Educational Foundation to support and recognize innovative programs that offer hands-on experiences for students, and to provide opportunities for all segments of the community to actively contribute to public education."

The purpose of the foundation is to:

  • enhance the excellent educational programs that are synonymous with the Fullerton School District and encourage the community to be active participants in student education.

The goal of the foundation is to:

  • promote hands-on science instruction and support innovation in the classroom through teacher grants.

The focus of the foundation for the 2001-02 school year is to:

  • award teacher grants for outstanding projects. (The grant applications are open to all teachers in the district.)
  • develop a partnership with the district to support the new science curriculum. The foundation will assist the district in obtaining additional resources for hands-on science instruction.

“The mission of the Simi Valley Education Foundation is to join together with other community and civic entities in promoting the general welfare of education through student scholarships, teacher school room grants and providing resources for under privileged youth.”


  • Clay, K., Hughes, K.S., Seely, J.G., & Thayer A.N.(1989). Public school foundations: Their organization and operation. Arlington, VA: Educational Research Service.
  • The Fullerton School District Educational Foundation Retrieved 10/23/02
  • Simi Valley Education Foundation -
  • Muro, J.J. (1995). Creating and funding educational foundations: A guide for local school districts. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.