Representatives from several Houston-area education foundations discussed their roles within their respective school districts at the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership’s Educational Workforce Development Committee regular meeting on Feb. 20, including Deborah Laine, the executive director of the Clear Creek Education Foundation.
Members from Friendswood, Laporte, Pasadena and Dickinson ISDs' foundations joined Laine on the panel, where they answered questions related to the history, effect and future goals of their nonprofits. Committee Chair Harv Hartman said the effects of an education go far beyond time spent in the classroom.
“Education is more than cracking the books from 9 to 3,” he said.
Education foundations help connect ISDs to local businesses and community members, giving district officials a sense of what the current workforce needs are, as well as to other ISDs to share ideas and learn from each other, the members said.
“A lot of it starts in groups like this,” Laine said at the meeting. “That’s the beauty of education foundations is we can share what we’re trying to do to be successful in our own communities.”
The Clear Creek Education Foundation’s mission, according to the foundation’s 2019 report, is to “[inspire] educational excellence through innovation across the Clear Creek Independent School District by securing a wide range of resources through community-wide partnerships.”
The foundation is 27 years old and has been staffed by a paid professionals for approximately the last ten years, CCISD officials said. Other education foundations are of similar age, with Friendswood’s foundation celebrating its 20-year anniversary in 2019.
CCEF assistance to CCISD comes primarily in the form of financial support, Laine said, such as raising money for the district’s Leader in Me program. Leader in Me teaches students success strategies such as goal setting, conflict resolution, planning and giving presentations.
The foundation initially piloted the program in two schools with $100,000. Several years later, the program is having very positive effects on CCISD students, Laine said.
“It’s a transformation for the entire school,” she said. “They’re learning so much at an early age.”
The foundation also gives two types of grants to students. One is a Student-Teacher Innovative Grant, a teacher-assisted process for securing up to $5,000 that students can put toward innovative classroom tools. Laine recalled a student who received funding to get telescopes for the astronomy club. Four students have received a total of $5,758 during the 2019-20 school year to date, per the CCEF 2019 report. There are also Science Fair Innovative Grants to enhance academic fair projects.
CCEF has infused more than $2 million in educational grants and designated programs since its inception in 1992, according to the report. Some of the programming includes events such as the I Love CCISD Fashion Show, which is in its 14th year this year and will be held March 22.
The foundation aims to reach every CCISD student, Laine said.
“Whatever that success is for them, one of our district goals is that every child that leaves us is on a path to success,” she said.