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Foundation seeks funding to help local teachers enrich their lessons

When teachers are in need of classroom supplies and the Demopolis City School Board can’t afford to cover the expenses, they have two options – dig into their own pockets or go to the Demopolis City Schools Foundation for help.

But, in order for the foundation to give teachers the help they need, DCSF turns to the community for assistance during its annual campaign.

“Last year we had a total of 30 teachers apply for grants and we were able to either partially fund, or completely cover, all but two of them,” DCSF executive director Jan McDonald said. “The total they asked for was $145,218.53, but we only had $55,000 to give. So that leaves a little over $90,000 that we couldn’t fund.”

In the past, McDonald, said teachers have asked for everything from globes, maps and telescopes, to classroom libraries, microscope-mounted cameras and math manipulatives.

Even though, the Foundation has not set a goal for this years campaign, members hope to have enough to fund more grants and still cover the overhead charges.

“We run the operation on a budget just under $100,000 a year,” McDonald said, “and that includes the Grant Endowment Fund, the annual grants and the overhead which pays for printings, mailing and other fees.”

The program has made tremendous strides since its creation in 1993, when it gave $10,000 worth of grants to teachers in 1995. In 2003 it was able to provide $65,000 in grants to area teachers and $55,000 in 2005, making the total amount of grants provided add to more than $535,000.

But it is still striving to meet, what the DCSF Board of Directors call, the Grant Endowment “Hallelujah” goal of $1 million.

The fund, which is never touched and will be used to ensure continuation of the Foundation, now totals approximately $475,000.

In attempts to reach the goal and raise money for grants, the four schools in the system raise money through individual efforts, as well as, the annual Schoolfest.

“The high school has an annual fish fry on April 13 and that makes Demopolis High School the busiest restaurant in Demopolis. Westside and U.S. Jones has field days with age appropriate activities and they sell pencils,” McDonald said. “In the past years they sold photographs and DHS will donate some of the money from their production of ‘Our Town.’ Another very popular activity is pickle sales.”

Last week, Demopolis Middle School held its annual Miss DMS Pageant to benefit the DCSF.

Another fundraising project for the organization is Tiger Court at DHS.

“We will build this courtyard on the north side of the gym,” McDonald said pointing to the preliminary plans. “People can purchase 8-inch squares to put their names on or dedicate to someone else.”

Although the schools do their job to fund learning enhancement tools, the Foundations main source of funding is the community,

Anyone who joins and donates $25 to the Foundation gets a decal. If $100 is given, a decal and a letter opener are given to the donor, McDonald said, a certificate is given for a $500 donation and a plaque featuring the artwork of a U.S. Jones student is given to donors who give $1,000. For a $5,000 donation, the contributor receives a DCSF engraved lamp and benefactors who give $25,000 receive a DCSF engraved chair.

All donors are also invited to the annual Appreciation Celebration in July, McDonald said.

“A good school system is vital for the growth and health of the community and its one of the first things businesses look at before moving to a city. Education provides a stronger workforce and a well-round society,” McDonald said. “Without a good education system, Demopolis would’ve been stagnate years ago.”

For more information on the Foundation, its grants or how to help, contact the DCSF office at (334) 289-2226.