Education foundation finds success amid changing circumstances
Fundraisers feel economic pinch, but still well-received
Judging by participation and money raised, the Elmbrook Education Foundation has completed a successful year of events.
"Yes, we are very happy," said Laura Schmidt, the foundation's executive director. "We have had a great group of volunteers and sponsors."
With those assets, the foundation put on two successful events: the ninth annual Ladies Night in November at Westmoor Country Club and the annual Winter Social, held for the fourth year at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts on March 3. Ladies Night brought in $27,000 and the Winter Social - with a casino theme - garnered $15,000.
More than money
Schmidt said the events can always grow in both fundraising and friend-raising.
"The most important part of these kinds of events," she said, "is reaching out to as much of the community as possible."
Attendance is critical, she said, noting that the Winter Social attracted many new participants, though participation was down slightly due to scheduling conflicts with other local events.
Economic struggle also might have played a part in keeping some people from attending who otherwise would.
The foundation is happy to have maintained solid relationships with Westmoor Country Club, the Wilson Center and sponsors like Pasternak & Zirgibel, local restaurants and other retailers who give in-kind donations and gifts for the events.
"We ask people who have attended for their suggestions," Schmidt said. "For our long-running Ladies Night, for example, they tell us not to change a thing. We know that events change somewhat over the years, but the basic idea is to give an opportunity for people to have a good time."
Schmidt said there is a balance between socializing and fundraising.
"Our message is always a part of the events," she said. "When we have 300 women come to the Ladies Night, we are reaching 300 households. We can only reach so many people at the events, so a lot of our work is all year round, communicating with parents, teachers and administrators and maintaining an interest in supporting our schools."
A history of support
The Elmbrook Education Foundation supports many aspects of the Elmbrook School District. After helping enhance Smart Board technology, the organization now is shifting it emphasis to supporting teaching excellence through continuing education and staff development.
There also is the matter of building an endowment, which Schmidt said is a critical part of developing an ongoing revenue stream.
"We are always looking for new opportunities, and our relationship with administration is important because we can help address areas that cannot be fully supported through the budget," she said.
To that end, the foundation leaders are getting to know incoming Superintendent Mark Hansen, who will take over for Matt Gibson on July 1.
"I have had the opportunity to meet Mark Hansen because he is so involved with Elmbrook even now, before he officially becomes superintendent," Schmidt said. "Mark has been very active with his foundation and was very involved and believes in being part of the community. We look forward to working with him."
Hansen is coming to the Elmbrook School District from the Pewaukee School District.
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