So What is the CHCCS Public School Foundation Anyway?
In Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, you’ll hear a lot about the Public School Foundation, or The Foundation, or PSF, as it’s more commonly called. Yet how many parents and community members can explain what this non-profit is, and how it impacts every staff member, student and family in our district?
Let’s start with specific projects and programs supported by PSF in recent years: through the Achievers Grants, funding for a Nicaragua service trip for students, ACT Prep for AVID seniors and tuition for students to attend STEM Leadership Camp; Enrichment Grants have funded Cultivating a Community Greenhouse, Robotics Team training, Exploring Race with Bryan Stevenson in Alabama, adapted curriculum equipment for EC students, and AVID/LEAP Poetry Collaboration. Professional Development Impact grants have funded Conscious Discipline training, Moving toward Mindfulness, Advancing School Based Mental Health and Paperhand Puppet Intervention workshops. And these represent a fraction of the creative and visionary projects made possible each year by PSF.
Still, the grants only comprise one category of PSF contributions. CHCCS staff benefits from the Foundation in numerous ways. The Educator Extra Credit Discount Program allows every staff member to receive discounts from dozens of local businesses; the very competitive, acclaimed Endowed Teaching Chairs recognize outstanding educators in many areas with monetary awards. Scholarships are granted to teachers pursuing the National Board Certification, and awards to assist with conference travel are granted to teachers who present on the national or state level.
Over the years, PSF has distributed more than $7,000,000 for programs and projects that would not have been funded by the CHCCS budget. PSF Executive Director, Lynn Lehmann, said, “We are fundraisers and grant makers. We believe that all students deserve the best possible education and that teachers are our most valuable resource. It is our continuing mission to play the role of champion for public education by advocating for positive change to make our schools the very best they can be. Our ultimate goal is to prepare all of the district’s students for lives as successful adults in the twenty-first century, which will benefit not only our children, but our entire community.”
PSF officially launched in 1984, and its impact on CHCCS students and staff increases each year. The fundraising component of the organization draws from both individual and corporate donors, including major contributors like the Oak Foundation, Strowd Roses Foundation and the Town of Chapel Hill. The Foundation also hosts multiple fundraising events, some of which have become much loved traditions in the community, from the Teachers First Breakfast at Squid’s Restaurant to the ever-growing 5K for Education, a run/walk through campus and the town which drew more than 1,100 runners, walkers and adaptable wheelchair riders in 2019.
Lehmann has served as executive director of PSF since September 2015, though her service within the school district and the wider community is decades long. Among her many previous roles was a stint as President of the PSF Board of Directors.
Lyn Billings, former PSF Board President, said, “In her years of service to the Public School Foundation, Lynn has had an unwavering commitment to the mission of supporting teacher development and student enrichment in our schools. She is an excellent representative of the Foundation, forging continued relationships with parents, sponsors, the district, teachers and the community at large. A true champion of public education, we have all been the beneficiaries of Lynn’s unparalleled dedication to PSF.”
“I can't imagine anyone more passionate about or dedicated to the support of all CHCCS students, teachers, and staff,” said Laura Baxley, another former Board President. “Lynn has provided thoughtful, responsible, and creative leadership in her role as Executive Director, and she is an asset to PSF and to the district.”
Many public school districts receive financial support from non-profit “school foundations,” and their mission is almost always to create stronger education outcomes and provide more academic and enrichment opportunities for students. With a vibrant and expansive school foundation, school leaders can protect valuable programs from the chopping block as well as support teacher development and both student and staff excellence. In the U.S. more than 6,500 school foundations serve nearly 15,000 school districts.
In a stressed educational economic environment both statewide and nationally, a successful, experienced and acutely-focused public school foundation like CHCCS PSF accomplishes more than can be easily quantified. But walk into any one of our 20 schools, and at every turn, you’ll find the fruits of a Foundation grant, teaching chair or Professional Development experience.
The Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. Donations are tax-deductible and donors receive tax receipts for their contributions. A simple way to support PSF is to link #6062 to your Harris Teeter VIC card.
- 49 Achievers Fund grants to support students with economic and academic needs throughout the district (tutoring, summer camp enrichment support, etc.) - $105,784
- 45 Classroom, school and district-wide grants to support innovative and creative instructional ideas - $63,429
- 3 International Teacher Travel grants to promote global collaboration for teachers and students - $3,000
- 17 Professional Development Impact Grants to schools and district collaboratives: $34,220
- 40 Small grants to support all novice teachers with supplies and materials - $4,000
- 526 Vouchers for the Annual Teacher Supply Store to support teachers with free supplies and materials - $41,252
- 86 Awards to recognize and reward outstanding teachers and staff at the Recognition Reception - $28,521
- 125 Local Businesses participating in the Educators’ Extra Credit Program to provide discounts to all CHCCS staff
- 41 Scholarships to Teachers pursuing National Board Certification or Re-Certification through NBPTS - $20,250
- 28 Scholarships for Teachers who were selected to present at National or State Conferences - $11,327
- 41 College Scholarships for Students graduating in 2019 - $51,000
- Total of $362,819