Union County now has what many counties across the United States already have â€“ an educational foundation that has the potential of raising millions of dollars to support Union County Public Schools.
â€œEducation foundations are springing up all over the country,â€ said the foundationâ€™s executive director Dick Baker. â€œCommunities are beginning to realize that with local tax dollars and state and federal funding for schools being cut, in order to maintain quality schools, bring in new technology and new programs and prepare our students to compete in a global society, then the private sector has to step up and help make these things happen. We can no longer depend on state budgets, federal dollars, tax revenues and county budgets.â€
The foundationâ€™s mission is to raise money and provide funding for technological advancements, classroom enhancements and educational programing for UCPS schools, students and teachers system wide.
â€œThere are several advantages of having a foundation that is a separate, non profit organization, with its own board of directors and its own policies and procedures,â€ Baker said. â€œIt opens the doors for potential grants from corporations and other non profit foundations, both public and private, and other entities for which the school system by itself is not eligible.
â€œSecondly, as a tax-exempt foundation, we can accept gifts from both individuals and corporations, and it is fully tax deductible, as allowed by the law,â€ Baker said. â€œOne hundred percent of that gift, by mandate, remains in Union County and is used solely for the support of the public school system.â€
The foundation can also accept certain gifts that are beyond just cash, including real and personal property, real estate, wills and bequests, insurance policies and retirement benefits. â€œHow ever people would like to support us, there is a financial vehicle to make that possible,â€ Baker said. â€œThat gives a great deal of flexibility to both the donor who is interested in supporting public education and it gives our organization a great deal of flexibility in how we can enlarge our endowment and build our assets.â€
The creation of the foundation began in the spring of 2010, when organizers applied for tax-exempt status. That was granted in July of 2011. After bylaws were written and a board was pulled together of community volunteers, the organization hired Baker as its executive director on Oct. 5, 2011.
The Union County Public Education Foundation Board of Directors, all volunteers, consist of Chairmen Jeff Bass and Vice Chairman Gary Sides; Sylvia Newsome, secretary; Ron Hinson, treasurer; and members Robert Heath; Tony Herrin, Matt Nelson, Starr Shaffer, Dr. Jerry Thomas, Dr. Gwen Perkins, Mike Lutes, Baxter Starnes and Patricia Martinez.
Baker, who has 25 years experience working in non-profit organization management, was introduced to the Union County Board of Education at its Nov. 1, 2011, regular board meeting. He will be speaking at civic organizations and with area business and industry in the near future.
For more information about the Union County Public Education Foundation, contact Baker at (704) 296-0725, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the foundationâ€™s web site.