SEF Named "Education Foundation of the Year"
by Connecticut Consortium of Education Foundations
These are excerpts from the remarks given by Paul Salva, President of the Somers Education Foundation on September 30th at the Connecticut Consortium of Education Foundation meeting in Cromwell, CT where the Somers Education Foundation was named Foundation of the Year.
"I very much would like to thank the Consortium for this award. In 2004, the Somers Education Foundation was named the best new foundation of the year. Now on our tenth anniversary, to receive the award as best foundation of the year is a tremendous validation of our efforts. The success of the SEF rests on the shoulders of hundreds of people – I would dare say the majority of our town of 8,000 has contributed in some way to its success.
In putting the SEF together I had proposed 5 basic concepts:
1. Build a private, sustaining endowment for our public schools.
2. Build this endowment over ten years by investing 50% of our income while granting 50% to the school system for specific projects and programs.
3. Have a Board of voting members and ex officio members. Full Board members could not be an elected official of any sort or draw a paycheck from the town of Somers. Our ex officio members would be: a town Selectman, the chairman of the Board of Ed, the Superintendent of Schools, an attorney and a CPA. The ex officio members could vote in subcommittee meetings.
4. The SEF would not provide salary support.
5. All board members work pro bono.
My colleague in this adventure was our first president, Lou Bachetti who had a wealth of experience in the charitable giving world and had the gift of time, being retired. While I had built the skeleton, Lou put the meat on its bones.
He proposed a 10 year endowment goal of $250,000 and did all the hard work to obtain state and federal 501c3 status. He promoted the concept tirelessly and established consistent sources of income for the foundation. The SEF has attained a status in Somers that community organizations now come to it to partner in fundraising events.
He, with our original board members developed the grant application process. Teachers submit grant proposals to their respective principals and the Superintendent for comment. The SEF Board then reviews the requests. A major requirement is the request needs to benefit a large number of students.
In our first year, the SEF was able to give $5,500 in grants.This year, the SEF was able to provide $37,000 in grants.
We exceeded our 10-year endowment goal by having $310,000 in its endowment which we can now draw from if need be. Our investment committee has performed masterfully, enhancing our endowment by almost 40% via investment performance. Our endowment actually grew in 2008 and 2009.
Some of our major accomplishments have been:
1. Funding for whiteboard technology and internet capabilities in every classroom in the high school and elementary school.
2. Funding for seed projects to see if iPads would be helpful in teaching and learning. Partially due to our efforts, the school system adopted a policy that every student has an iPad and has accomplished that in 3 years.
3. Funded the robotics program at the high school and extended it to the middle school
4. Funded a computer reading literacy laboratory in the middle school
5. Funded a literacy fluency program in the elementary school
6. Funded dozens and dozens of professional development grants covering registration and materials costs for teachers to attend training sessions
Lou Bachetti led the SEF during its first 9 years. He passed away in July 2013 and I am sharing this honor today with Terri Henderson who is Lou’s daughter and SEF Secretary.
This award has certainly lifted our Board’s spirits and invigorated us to make the SEF’s next ten years even more successful than its first ten. Thank you."