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West Fargo Education Foundation seeks seed money

The foundation hopes to grow and will be expanding to include all three West Fargo high schools.

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WEST FARGO — After years of supporting itself through mostly volunteer work and time, the West Fargo Educational Foundation is asking the West Fargo School Board to consider offering the group some seed money to continue its growth.

Monday, March 14, former West Fargo Superintendent David Flowers asked the board to consider a one-time funding of the West Fargo Educational Foundation that could be spread over four years.

“It’s a one time request. It’s seed money,” Flowers said. We’re asking for money so we can get to the point the foundation could do that on its own and not ask for money in the future.”

The West Fargo Educational Foundation was revamped in 2015 and began organizing a West Fargo High School Hall of Fame. But, the group has grown since to include an inclusion initiative designed to assist minority employees to acquire teaching credentials. It also established itself along with Dakota Medical Foundation’s Giving Hearts Day as a notable nonprofit and has raised more than $23,000. The foundation also purchased a school bus to build the Little Red Reading Bus, which is a mobile library that visits West Fargo neighborhoods and holds reading events throughout the community.

The foundation is governed by a board of directors and events have been hosted by volunteers.

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"We’re looking to expand the board," Flowers said. "The main idea and the vision is how we see ourselves some years down the road. We want to be seen as the preeminent, premier supporter of this district down the road."

The West Fargo Educational Foundation also provides annual monetary awards for Educator of the Year, which includes teachers, administrators and staff of the year categories. It also awards annual mini-grants for teachers wishing to try new strategies beyond those available to them.

Flowers said the foundation is hoping to raise about $2.5 million over the next four years to continue its programming and to expand. He asked the board to consider a four-year commitment of funds.

"We understand it might be a one time commitment and you spread it over the four years," Flowers said. “We’re not asking for a continuing money stream, we’re asking for seed money."

The additional school district funding would help the foundation focus on its strategic priorities of branding, innovation and growth; creating a legacy and celebrating the district’s heritage; inclusion; and helping the district embrace, reflect and educate the diverse community.

Instead of hiring a full-time director for the foundation, the group would like to hire a part-time fundraising consultant for about $130,000 over four years.

“You always said hire good people,” Baord Member Patti Stedman said. “I’m very excited. We’ve been talking about the education foundation since I got on the board. I’m very excited to see it grow.”

While the board did not vote on the proposal at its Monday meeting, board members were supportive of the idea.

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Board President Jim Jonas said he’s very familiar with other district foundations, which sponsor things such as pre-game rallies and scholarships.

“It’s exactly what West Fargo is all about, starting from the ground up and you just never give up,” Board member Jessica Jackson said.

For more information about the West Fargo Educational Foundation, visit www.educationfoundation.com .

As the West Fargo editor, Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum and oversees the production of the weekly Pioneer.
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