“At this point it [The East Fund] has affected every department at the school and every student,” President Julie Foster said.
The East Fund raises money to provide grants to better the learning environment of East. Their mission statement is “to bring together the diverse community at Shawnee Mission East to identify the best ways to enhance the educational experience for students and teachers alike, and to create resources to offer the widest possible range of opportunities for all students and teachers to reach their maximum potential.”
The East Fund was started nine years ago when the amount of funding given to schools started to decrease. In the beginning, 60 families created the founders endowment. This initial money started the fund, but an annual action was also started. Letters are also sent out in the spring asking for a donation.
Although donations aren’t always easy to come by, when asked if funding is a challenge, Foster said, “people have been very generous.”
The board has monthly meetings, but only three meetings of the year are used to vote upon grants: September, November, and February. The process begins with applying for a grant, which must exceed $1,000 to qualify. A grant is an amount of money given from an organization for a specific purpose. Next, the application is presented to a grant committee of seven people who do any necessary research. They also evaluate the grant using a point system and 14 different criteria including will it require future funding and how many people it will impact. The scores are then averaged. Finally, the grants are voted upon at an East Fund Board Meeting.
An example of a program funded by the East Fund is link crew.
“Everyone in the school has been through the link crew program,” Foster said.
Other grants include nook technology for the library, a smartboard cart for the journalism program, and document cameras for the english department.
More information about the East Fund can be found on their recently updated website www.theeastfund.org. A new logo was also designed. The ideas for renovating the website came in response to a SME staff survey.
“When asked to describe The East Fund in one word,” Foster said. “Several of the staff members replied with opportunity, enrichment, and innovation.”
The East Fund encourages parents, students, and community members to apply for grants that will better SME in some way. Plans for the future include providing funding that the school budget cannot supply, in order to allow for continuing success of students.