BROWNSBURG — As the Brownsburg Education Foundation (BEF) reminisces about 25 years gone by, members are also looking back on a 2012 that may have exceeded any other year, which means more grants for teachers and more scholarships for students through various fundraising efforts.
“This year reinforced more than ever that we truly, as a community, Enhance Education Together. That’s our motto,” said Diane Brown, president of the BEF. “But for us, in this anniversary year, that has shown to be how we can truly make an impact. We had community businesses step up to sponsor our inaugural gala so all the proceeds raised that evening went to classroom grants and student scholarships. We had new sponsors pledging at all different levels for all of our events and returning sponsors step up in their giving. We had new volunteers who contacted us as a result of our newsletter.
“In 2012 we named our gala the All in for Education Gala to represent the community coming together, being ‘all in’ to support and celebrate education in our community. Truthfully, not only did we see that the evening of the gala, we’ve seen that happen all year long. The community passion and involvement with our foundation’s mission this year has been outstanding. It has been a wonderful way to honor the legacy of our founders.”
The Drive One 4 Ur School program saw record success and the Yankee Candle fundraiser that is just wrapping up has been so helpful to the company that they this year even created special Brownsburg Bulldogs candles as a thank you to the BEF for making that their yearly highest fundraiser.
Through these and more events, like the support of the Kiwanis Club, a boot camp event that donated $5 for every registration to the BEF, and more, they were able to show a steady increase in giving from 2011, both individually and from a corporate perspective, as well as grow the endowment in 2012.
“We had several sponsors come together for the Drive One event and we were not only able to increase what we raised, but more than double the impact of the Bill Estes event because we had people pledging a dollar per drive and that enabled to help us raise $50 per drive instead of $25,” Brown said.
“Thanks to BEF grants, students have been given access to educationally-relevant technology that is useful in supporting and augmenting their learning. Additionally, grant money has been used to provide incentives for students in order to encourage them to meet and exceed their teachers’ goals for their learning,” explained Aimee Harvey, secondary English department head for the Brownsburg Community School corporation of how the BEF’s offerings are used beneficially.
“It is obvious that although the teachers are the ones who apply for BEF grants, the students are the beneficiaries of the foundation’s financial support of these initiatives.”
Some of the grants go to the ever changing technology landscape.
“The Brownsburg Education Foundation has been generous in awarding grants to the Life Skills Program at Brown Elementary School,” said Cynthia Winings, speech pathologist. “Over several years, funds have been provided to purchase four iPads, including the communication application Proloquo2Go. This communication application offers children with limited speech and language skills to make requests and answer questions throughout the school day. Since the iPad is so portable, the children have been able to take it on field trips to order food and to identify vocabulary pertaining to the outing. The staff and students are so grateful for the generosity of the Brownsburg Education Foundation and the opportunities it has provided for our children to express themselves with a voice at school as well as in the community.”
Rene Behrend has lived both sides of the BEF, first as a teacher and a parent and now as the group’s executive assistant as of this past September. She said she’s seen the gains from both ends of the spectrum.
“I’ve taken the last 17 years off to raise a family, so I think it’s great the way the foundation supports teachers and the students and adds to the programs and already wonderful education that the kids get,” Behrend said.
But 25 years of success doesn’t allow the group to rest on its laurels. Its 25th anniversary gala earlier this year was a huge success, both at the event and beyond, and the creation of the 1987 club which honors the beginnings of the foundation saw some of the benefits and allows those who want to contribute to do so at three levels.
“It starts off at $19.87, so if someone wants to start at a low level, they can,” said Brown, who noted that every dollar pledged helps.
Other levels for the club are $198.70, or $1,987.
“We hope that the 1987 club not only honors our past, but also gives individuals a way to make a difference for the future, considering it as an individual option,” Brown said. “I think our takeaway is to continue to talk about and share with people the impact that we are able to make in our schools for the students and teachers and that just a little investment on their part can make a big difference and that has been evident.
Next year’s gala is scheduled for March. Though it’s still in the planning stages, Behrend said she’s looking forward to it.
“The first event that I did was the Drive One event, and that was a lot of fun to be out with a lot of community members,” she said. “Members and the school corporation employees really got behind that event, so it was fun.”
The All in for Education Gala 2013 is scheduled for March 15 at Don Schumacher Racing in Brownsburg.
For more information on the BEF, visit the website at brownsburgeducationfoundation.org.