During the last two Chairman’s letters, I recognized two pillars of our community who had recently passed away: Merlin Hanson and Steve Upton. Both of these men and their families have been frequent and substantial contributors to the LEF. As a result of their philanthropic actions, the Lakeshore Excellence Foundation (LEF), the Lakeshore Public Schools, and the greater Berrien County area, have all been positively impacted. I am convinced that the recent announcement by the LEF would have been strongly supported by both Merlin and Steve as an excellent use of our funds.
In case you haven’t heard, in early October, the LEF announced a commitment to fund $1,000,000 in projects that improve the educational experiences throughout Lakeshore Public Schools.
That commitment is represented by seven projects that are detailed throughout this newsletter. The projects span a broad spectrum of needs, and there is something for everyone. From physical changes, to program support, to teacher recognition, this major investment supports a comprehensive strategy that improves the educational experiences throughout the Lakeshore School District.
I think that a quick review of the LEF fundraising approach is in order. When I was asked to become the leader of the LEF in 2012, the fundraising approach was in a very sequential manner. First a project was identified, then a fundraising effort was developed, then the fundraising was executed, and finally the project initiated and then completed. This approach was time-consuming, but very financially secure because 100% of the funds were secured before the project spending started. When we consider our LEF mission of enhancing the wellbeing and education of the Lakeshore students, the more projects that we can fund during a school year the better! With that in mind, we’ve decided to commit our support to some projects before all of the money has been raised so we can have a greater, more immediate, positive impact. As such, we have moved to a continuous fundraising approach. The Lancer Leader annual appeal, the Online Auction in February, the Golf Scramble in June, and the Cash Raffle in September, all play an essential part in raising the money to support our project commitments. This investment approach may be a bit more financially risky, as multiple project commitments are made and the project executions are in process before the total financial commitment has been raised, but the impact outweighs the risks.
We have approximately $600,000 of the $1,000,000 project commitment covered, leaving the LEF in need of raising the remaining $400,000 to close the gap. This is the largest fundraising need that I have experienced as Chair of the LEF. I feel encouraged, however, that we have never failed in our ability to generate the funds needed to support excellence in education at Lakeshore. This is where we continue to ask for your financial support to help bridge this funding gap.
I have been around education all my life. My parents, my sister and my daughter have all been teachers. Whether you’ve been around educators like I have or not, it’s hard to disagree with the fact that excellence in education benefits us all. But we recognize that excellence takes investment. We can have the absolute best facility, the absolute best programs and curriculum but it still takes an effective teacher to put it into meaningful execution. That is one reason why I personally feel that the RAV (Recognize, Appreciate and Value) project, in particular, is a critical investment to continue to increase the effectiveness of our teachers. Think about it … each of us can name a former teacher that really supported us in our efforts to do better and/or guided us towards a career. Teachers are a foundational component of educational excellence.
Please consider that improving the educational experiences of our staff and students is an investment that will pay dividends for decades. Together, we can do this …