Starting a Foundation

What are public school foundations?

Education FoundationEducation 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 4,800 school foundations in 16,000 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.

For a Foundation Start-Up Guide that includes information on Planning Stage, Legal Issues, Board of Directors, Ethical Considerations, Developing a Timeline, and Forms, visit the National School Foundation Association.

The National School Foundation Association provides information about starting, operating and growing public and private school foundations.

Why the National School Foundation Association?

  • Elementary and secondary school administrators and teachers need or desire more funding to do a more effective job educating children.
  • Communities across the US are made up of an aging populace, and are demonstrating less interest in continued tax increases to support education.
  • A projected intergenerational wealth transfer occurring over the next 25-35 years, yielding between 15 and 40 trillion dollars.
  • $41 billion was donated to education in the US in 2006, the second largest recipient category (behind religion) of philanthropic donations in the US.
  • Giving USA reports that many major donors who give to education are switching their financial support and focus from college and universities to elementary and secondary schools.
  • Many schools want to enhance, improve and expand the financial performance of their foundation, but have no consistent realistic resources available for immediate help.
  • Many schools and school districts want to establish a foundation but don’t have the time, expertise, or finances to set one up. Without a foundation and its presence in the community, donors often overlook the school and its financial needs.
  • Many schools are beginning to understand what colleges and universities have known for decades, there are many individuals who wish to support education and a foundation is an excellent way to begin to develop this stream of philanthropy.

For more information on education foundations, visit the National School Foundation Association.