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D59 Education Foundation Recognized for Exemplary Character

September 7, 2016

In CCSD59, the D59 Education Foundation’s work can be seen almost everywhere. From their sponsorship of district-wide events, such as the Back to School Celebration and the D59’s Got Talent show, to authoring grants for books and classroom tools, the Foundation is helping students and staff across the district every day with donations of both time and funding.

On September 6, 2016, the D59 Education Foundation received its own shining star in the form of an award from the Community Character Coalition of Elk Grove. The Coalition’s mission is to build the core of community strength through daily demonstrations of good character and to recognize local organizations and residents who demonstrate it. Individuals and groups are nominated by the Coalition, which are then selected by the Executive Board.

At Tuesday’s meeting, both the D59 Education Foundation and the Elk Grove Park District Foundation received a recognition award for community altruism. The 6 Pillars of Character – trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship- are all components of the award. Karen Osmanski, secretary of the CCSD59 Board of Education and the BOE representative of the foundation, introduced directors Jayne Wilkins-Scott and Sharon Lansdown and provided background of the Foundation’s work. All are former CCSD59 teachers and know firsthand how much the assistance is valued; some are even former recipients of the grant themselves.

Founded in 2004, the D59 Education Foundation’s mission has always remained the same: to enhance the quality of education and increase community involvement by fostering partnerships that support excellence and innovation in CCSD59. Osmanski said that the shared attributes with the Community Character Coalition’s mission is what made this recognition so special.

“We just want to be recognized as a group in the community that is focused on giving back to the community, and I see this recognition as doing just that,” Osmanski commented.

Since June 2004, the Foundation has awarded over $200,000 in grants and projects for CCSD59 students and staff, through major fundraising events, honorary or memorial gifts, staff recognition certificates, and general donations. “We have no paid employees,” said Lansdown, “and we absolutely turn every cent that we can in. Over 90% of the money we receive goes right back into helping the district.”

The Foundation provides assistance in many areas, from academics to nutrition to emotional growth. “We care about kids, and we want to help them in any way we can,” Lansdown said. She points to the D59’s Got Talent show as an example where raising funds is only a small part of the benefits children receive. “It does wonderful things for the kids as individuals too, giving them an opportunity to express themselves and to gain confidence and skills. I’m thinking, something that does that much good for the kids, and we can raise money to give back, too?” she says with a smile.

Osmanski adds that helping the teachers also directly helps the students. “We know that we can impact the children by providing the teachers with assistance, so that they can do those innovative things in the classroom that they may not have been able to do before,” she said.

The Foundation has been working together for over 12 years to help CCSD59 succeed, and the present members all felt it is a great way to give back to a district that treated them well. “I’m really proud of being on the foundation every day,” said Wilkins-Scott, “to just be a part of the community that’s giving back so much to the kids.” She said the foundation members work very well together and it always impresses her how everyone comes together and pitches in to get it all done. The individual strengths of each member continue to grow the pool of talent, expertise and ideas of the Foundation, which in turn helps the district.

In addition to thank-you letters, pictures, and notes from the students and staff, the recognition received from the Community Character Coalition helps the Foundation members feel connected with the community they serve.

Wilkins-Scott summed it up well: “This organization recognizes what we want to instill in our kids – that character counts. When we taught in our classrooms, we wanted the children to see that you can make a big difference just by giving back to the community. It all ties back together quite nicely.”

Interested in donating or volunteering at the D59 Education Foundation? Click here for more information.

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