In its first full year in operation, the Pearland ISD Education Foundation presented more than $10,600 in grants, with more to come.
The nonprofit was created in 2013 to support educational programs for PISD’s students and staff, funding educational programs and activities that either aren’t funded or are under-funded by the district’s operating budget.
The foundation was in operation only 5 months before it began awarding grants, with 13 grants presented last May through a “surprise patrol” of foundation board members who visited schools to surprise teachers in their classrooms.
The 13 were selected from 46 applications submitted.
“Some of these things may not seem very innovative, but if you really dig into the meat of the actual application, you’ll find they are outside the box from what that teacher does in a general day,” said Jeff Barry, foundation president. “Everything from mosaic projects to library market space and more.”
“It was phenomenal to see the teachers’ excitement and the kids’ faces,” he said, describing accompanying the prize patrol during several of its winner announcements.
The grant committee is scheduled to meet in January, and this year a focus will be placed on teacher training on developing and detailing programs and to be potentially funded.
“We’ve got a really good start on the year,” he said. “We have the opportunity to give out more grants than we did this past year.”
The foundation is set to receive approximately $20,000 per year through PISD payroll deductions, as well as from PTA founding donors and other sources.
“In particular, it strikes me that teachers don’t make as much money as they should,” Trustee Rusty DeBorde said. “And here they are, reaching into their own pockets to get involved with this. I think it speaks volumes.”
The foundation recently held its very first fundraising event, an adult spelling bee that featured teams of local businesses, teachers, parents and city leaders. The event netted $24,000, said Jennifer Pearson, interim foundation coordinator for the foundation.
“We had so many people who had a good time, we’ve actually had them turn around and write us a check to be founding donors,” she said.
A founding donor is a $1,000 and up category, she said. Founding donors are listed on the foundation website as well as its Facebook page.
“One way you can show your appreciation to them is look at that list and use their services when at all possible,” DeBorde said. “It’s the whole shop local mentality. They are giving back to their community and we should try to give back to them.”
Foundation board members include PISD Trustees Andrew Solomon and Charles Gooden.