Funding is obviously crucial to any school district’s mission. Soon, the Old Forge School District will have another revenue source to draw upon.
The Old Forge Education Foundation, also known as The Foundry, was recently established with the idea of supplementing the district budget and allowing it to expand its offerings to students.
Though the foundation will work alongside the school district, it will be a completely independent entity.
Old Forge Junior-Senior High School Principal Christopher Gatto first broached the idea of a foundation when he was interviewing for the position in the summer of 2017.
“In other districts, I saw that they have these educational foundations. Abington Heights has one,” Gatto said. “It piqued my interest, and it was definitely something I wanted to do.”
The Old Forge School Board unanimously approved the foundation’s establishment in the fall, and since then Gatto has spent considerable building interest in it among alumni, borough residents and business owners.
The foundation now has an advisory council, with Old Forge alumnus Noah Katz serving as its president. The members have drafted bylaws, and are now in the process of establishing a website and a social media presence.
Gatto goes to all of The Foundry’s meetings but is not directly involved in its administration due to his district employment.
“I’m like the liaison between the district and the foundation,” he said, noting the foundation plans to have its first fundraiser in May, likely at Cusumano.
Among other things, The Foundry will be used to help fund district technology, equipment, programs and facilities. Early goals will include getting Google Chromebooks for every student, and increasing funding for STEAM education, according to Gatto.
Peter Quigg of Commonwealth Charitable Management has been hired to manage the foundation’s perpetual endowment fund.
Commonwealth Charitable Management will accept money from individuals and organizations to create endowments, special project funds, Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program funds (EITC) and Educational Improvement Organizations (EIO) that will directly benefit district students.
Each year, a percentage of the fund will be granted under the direction of the advisory council, who will perform an annual needs assessment to gauge the outstanding needs of the district. Meanwhile, a special projects fund will allow donors to direct tax-deductible donations to a specific project, and the EITC program and EIOs will allow businesses to support a wide variety of programming and improvements for as little as 6 to 7 cents on the dollar.
The key to the foundation’s sustainability will be active involvement by alumni and community members who see the value it will bring to the district.
“I think the idea is really catching on with people,” Gatto said. “There’s definitely an interest in it. The town of Old Forge is deeply invested in the district, so I think they’ll be more than happy to contribute.”