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Foundation reinvents itself to help students

The Superior Scholarship Foundation is spending a little money in an effort to raise even more cash. The foundation reorganized last July, adding an executive board and director position. A new Web site is also to be launched. The foundation adde...

The Superior Scholarship Foundation is spending a little money in an effort to raise even more cash.

The foundation reorganized last July, adding an executive board and director position. A new Web site is also to be launched. The foundation added five members to attend its quarterly meetings and created the executive board to meet monthly.

Before last year, the 10-member board met every three months and talked about new projects. It was a slow process to get anything done, said Nancy Pedersen, interim executive director.

The changes come in an effort by the foundation to expand its awards to benefit the education of current Superior school district students.

The foundation got involved with current students a few years ago, when the Superior School Board started giving the foundation $1,000 per year to donate to students for help with field trips and cultural opportunities.

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This year the scholarship foundation helped elementary students see "Beauty and the Beasts" by Bold-choice Theater Company, a group that uses a play to teach others about living with disabilities. The foundation also helped a science class visit the Body Worlds exhibit and the Superior Middle School archery team attend its national competition in June.

The foundation also helps with individual opportunities. It has helped students attend a swim competition in Australia and other students visit Africa and learn about future careers. Most of the awards are $100 to $150, so they don't cover the full cost for students, but they help, Pedersen said.

Many other school districts are attempting this to supplement education of their students in the face of budget cuts, said John Hendricks, Scholarship Foundation president and school board member.

Foundation members plan to expand those efforts through a move to a more active form of fundraising.

The foundation is fortunate to already be well supported in its scholarship efforts by members of the community and alumni looking to memorialize lost loved ones. Generally, they contact the foundation or the school district looking to donate, Pedersen said.

This is just something different the foundation is looking to fund.

If the foundation can get kids to programs, they might be more inclined to go to college after school, she said.

Pedersen said she'd like to see the foundation raise enough money for its new venture to offer $3,000 in awards to current students each year, she said.

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It would be nice to have a perpetual fund, so money can be invested and ensured for future students, she said.

Two things motivated this change -- continued cuts by the school board because of declining revenue and the realization that a first rate education needs to include exciting opportunities, said William Rehnstrand of the foundation and school board.

For example, when the board was forced to cut music, the foundation board realized it's not easy for many Superior residents to afford private music lessons for their children. This activity fund may help to put some part of that opportunity back into the classroom or help students on an individual basis, he said.

Following in the foot steps of universities, the foundation is looking into using alumni connections and special events to raise additional money in the future.

The University of Wisconsin-Superior Chancellor's Ball and Northwood School silent auction have been helpful in raising money for those schools. Superior could benefit from something similar, Pedersen said.

The foundation also is partnering with Harris Connect, a firm that makes directories. The company compiles a directory of graduates and offers them for sale to graduates. Pedersen is now looking for the names and last known addresses of graduates to provide Harris Connect.

The directory costs the scholarship foundation nothing, Harris Connect makes its money through sales of the directory, and the foundation could use the addresses Harris collects to inform graduates about its activities, Pedersen said. The directory should be complete some time next year, she said.

The foundation's newsletter and Web site also will contain information about how a person can donate to both scholarships and the activity fund. People can indicate how they want the money spent, whether it be in the classroom, field trips, special education or scholarships, Pedersen said.

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The foundation is still working toward this new effort, she said, but the new Web site should be up and running soon.

Anna Kurth covers education. Call her at (715) 395-5019 or e-mail akurth@superiortelegram.com .

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