Boren says Oklahoma leading the nation in commmunity fundraising for schools

Thursday, September 7th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma is leading the nation in a new trend in funding public education. University of Oklahoma President David Boren founded the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence 14 years ago to encourage community fundraising for schools. Since that time, Oklahoma schools have followed the lead and set up their own foundations.

Boren had reason to celebrate at the annual meeting of the organization he founded. The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence now has a more than $4 million endowment that awards scholarships to the state's top high school seniors, and cash awards to outstanding teachers. Boren thanked community leaders for helping raise the money, and leading the way for local schools to follow. "The real story is that Oklahoma is now number one in the nation per capita in the number of communities with their own private foundations to help their public schools,” he said. “Number one with these 150 local foundations, and that's making a difference. We're the role model in the nation. We don't brag about it enough."

Through a variety of fundraising projects, local education foundations raise money schools don't have for academic materials and activities, and offer grants for innovative teaching ideas. Ron Barber serves on the Jenks Public Schools Foundation, which has raised a $1 million endowment. "We try to create awareness of needs in the district,” Barber said. “We are also highly involved on the fundraising side of it as well as the grant side."

Smaller districts such as Stroud are also raising money for their schools. "It's really interesting,” said Stroud Education Foundation spokesman Arthur Thompson. “You grant awards to the classroom and both the teachers and the students get very excited."

Boren is excited about the growing focus on academic as well as athletic competition and recognition.
"By raising the level of our schools, we're going to chart the future of our state,” Boren explained. “Because it's intellectual property -intellectual talent - that will spur our economic development in the future." Foundation members hope it also affirms what they believe to be an ever more important value to society, education excellence.

News on Six Education Reporter Glenda Silvey is a new trustee of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence. This year the foundation awarded nearly $200,000 in scholarships and teacher awards at the Academic All-State Banquet in May.