Buckeye Education Foundation
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Photo by Dante Fontana
It’s unthinkable: schools with empty libraries and without music, art, science or physical education programs.
Sadly, it is an unblinking reality for some of California’s public schools and on the horizon for others. In recent years, as California’s budget emergency has spiraled out of control, parents and educators have grown weary of threatened cuts to public school districts. But some are fighting back and forming their own grassroots efforts to keep vital programs in schools.
Jon Yoffie is one such parent who has taken action. In 2009, he formed the Buckeye Education Foundation to help generate supplemental funding for the six elementary and two middle schools within the Buckeye Union School District in El Dorado County. With two young children in its schools, Yoffie and wife Shannon have a stake in the level of education the district provides.
“The Foundation evolved from an idea at our kitchen table and today it is a viable 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation,” Yoffie says. “The positions are staffed by a small group of dedicated and passionate volunteers, all of whom play important parts. We have representation from each of the Buckeye District’s schools, and the level of awareness of the Foundation – and the good that it can do – has grown tremendously.” Funds raised in the early stages helped keep several physical education and library programs afloat. In the current phase, the Foundation is working to identify new educational programs such as world languages and technology.
Sources of income include donations from school families with matching corporate contributions from many of the parents’ employers. In addition, the Foundation holds fundraising events and seeks support from the business community and other organizations at the regional, statewide and national levels. They are also pursuing ongoing efforts to secure funds through educational grants and endowments.
Thus far, the community has been supportive and sees the need. “To date, the Foundation has raised just shy of $250,000,” Yoffie says. “Our near-term goal is to reach $500,000 in donations each year. Since we are 100-percent-volunteer staffed, have no fixed overhead, and have had numerous businesses donate their services, we are able to reinvest over 90 percent of the money we raise in educational programs that benefit all children in the district.”
Yoffie, an executive in media communications, is the organization’s president. He oversees strategic vision and interfaces with the school community, the district administration and the board of trustees. He also leads the monthly board meetings on the fourth Wednesday of each month. But perhaps his most important task, Yoffie says, is ensuring that the Foundation, as a tax-exempt organization, earns and maintains the trust of the community it serves. For this reason, he encourages anyone who is interested to get involved. “Good schools support our children’s future and our quality of life, and they maintain our social values,” he enthuses. “They attract the people and businesses that work in our community, and even help to increase our property values. That’s why the Buckeye Education Foundation benefits everyone in our community. We ask people to support it however they can, through a gift of time or financial support. We need both!”
Visit buckeyefoundation.org for more information.