The Whitehouse ISD Education Foundation (WISD EF) was organized in 2014. In just three years, the foundation has been able to fund educational grants totaling $140,000. Applications for current grants are being accepted at the district office through 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14. Those chosen for awards will receive the grants in November.
Once received, applications are scored by anonymous readers, who are generally nominated by WISD EF board members and come from various walks of life. Scoring is based on several criteria, particularly including how closely the application aligns with the foundation’s goals and how innovative the idea is considered to be.
The foundation’s grant committee reviews the applications that have been deemed most innovative and looks at how they can fund as many as possible. Last year, $80,000 in grants was awarded.
WISD EF came about because “for several years there was a group of citizens who kept bringing it [an education foundation] up,” stated President Jim Nipp.
In late 2013, Daniel Dupree was then superintendent of schools. Greg Hood and Patrick Moran were both members of the school board. Together they “decided they would put together an exploratory committee to just look to see if our community would support a foundation,” Nipp said.
Foundation Innovations of Austin was brought in to determine whether the climate for foundation support existed in Whitehouse. The findings of Foundation Innovations suggested that citizens not only care about public education, but are passionate about WISD and just need to be asked to help.
Knowing community support was available, WISD EF was organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2014. Members of the first WISD EF board included Patrick Moran, Greg Hood, Daniel Dupree, Randall Robinson, Nathanial Moran, Michael Lavender and Karen Lively.
“The first board settled on awarding classroom grants,” not only because it was recommended by the exploration committee but due to “economics,” according to Nipp. Providing classroom grants affords more “bang for buck,” Nipp said.
He further explained, “Teachers had great ideas that were outside the curriculum and they were funding those [ideas] out of pocket.” Nipp also noted that it wasn’t just teachers that could apply for grants. Any faculty or staff member on any WISD campus may apply.
Funding for the grants WISD EF awards comes through generous donations of Whitehouse residents and businesses. Kristina Wait, administrative director of the foundation, reported that teachers “can donate directly through payroll deductions and collectively account for the largest group of donors” to the foundation.
Of the donations the foundation received, Wait said the greatest number came in “$1 and $3 monthly amounts.”
WISD EF is “completely funded by the community – some corporate sponsors, grants from other foundations – but the bulk are from small, recurring gifts from the community,” Nipp stated.
For more information about WISD EF or how to donate, visit www.WISD EF.org.