Starting a Foundation

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What are public school foundations?
Education foundations are “privately operated, nonprofit organizations established to assist public schools” and who qualify as charitable organizations, “different from school districts, public institutions or local governments” (Clay, Hughes, Seely & Thayer, 1985). A public school foundation “is designed to augment, supplement, or complement programs and activities currently being provided by the district” (McCormick, Baver & Ferguson, 2001). Currently in the U.S. there are over 6,500 school foundations in 14,500 school districts (McCormick et al., 2001). They have their own board of directors and their own staff, both paid and volunteer. Most school foundations operate as “an independent entity, with no formal, legal relationship to the school district” (De Luna, 1995, p.8). Foundations can specify in their bylaws whether the school board will get involvement in voting or not.

Foundation Start-Up Guide

Planning Stage

Feasibility Study
Board of Directors
Developing a Timeline

Legal Issues
Ethical Consideration


  • Clay, K., Hughes, K.S., Seely, J.G., Thayer A.N., (1989). Public school foundations: Their organization and operation. Arlington, VA: Educational Research Service.
  • McCormick, D.H., Bauer, D.G., & Ferguson, D.E. (2001). Creating foundations for American schools. Gaithersburg, MA: Aspen Publishers.
  • De Luna, P. (1995). The education foundation: Raising private funds for public schools (Report No. ISSN-0733-2548). Eugene, OR: Oregon School Study Council. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No.390 152)