Education foundations across the state are working to create a positive impact while state funding continues to tighten.
The foundations are comprised of volunteers, parents and business owners who raise money to fund school requests like the one from Charles Page High School teacher Daniel Schmidt.
When Schmidt wanted to show his students how aquaponics works, he turned to the Sand Springs Education Foundation for a $4,000 grant.
“And it's groups like the foundation that puts extra stuff like this that the kids get to use and see that they wouldn't just see in a normal classroom,” Schmidt said.
In a state that lags the rest of the nation in so many key education measurements, Oklahoma’s local foundations are the rare bright spot.
“We have more privately-funded local foundations helping our public schools, towns, all across America, then any other state per capita in the nation,” said University of Oklahoma President David Boren. “We’re number one.”
Currently, there are 223 education foundations statewide, from the largest in Oklahoma City and Tulsa to the smallest in Ninnekah.
Karen Rose, director of Local Education Foundation Outreach for the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, has a role that helps foundations get started and also nurtures them along the way.
“But it's never enough,” Rose said. “No foundation can satisfy all that needs to be done, in any Oklahoma school system. But it feels good to try. It's just too important not to.”