Thursday, December 5, 2002

Cape Education Foundation raises $20,000

Published in the Current

The Cape Elizabeth Education Foundation has made the first investment in its endowment, depositing $5,000 from a recent phone-a-thon fund-raising drive into a fund it hopes will eventually grow to over $1 million.

“This is our initial investment that establishes our permanence in the community,” said spokeswoman Susan Spagnola.

Interest earned by the endowment funds will be used to make grants in coming years.

The phone-a-thon, held Nov. 12, 13 and 14, reached over 500 Cape families and raised over $20,000, Spagnola said. Coupled with a mailed packet of information and request for contributions, the drive is expected to bring in around $30,000 in donations, she said.

“The response was excellent,” Spagnola said.

Over half of the respondents, she said, were receptive to the idea of a non-profit foundation that supports innovation and activities in the schools that are not funded within the normal school budget process.

Many people had questions about how the foundation works and were able to get them answered in the phone conversations, Spagnola said.

“People have a great deal of faith in us,” Spagnola said.

Some people expressed concern about high taxes that already support the schools, and others did not feel comfortable donating money in slow economic times.

“It is a hard time to be asking people for money,” Spagnola said.

The foundation expects to make a new round of grants this spring, in either May or June. The amount has not been finalized, but Spagnola said, “we hope to give away at least as much as we gave away this fall,” when grants totaled $15,000.

To meet that granting need, to cover its administrative costs and to begin planning for a capital campaign slated to begin next year, the foundation expects to spend $80,000. It needs to raise more money to get to that point, and is planning a series of community-based fund-raising activities for the spring.

One possibility for such an event, Spagnola said, could be a spelling bee in which local businesses raise teams and pay an admission fee to compete against each other. Such an event, Spagnola said, would involve the community and be in keeping with the foundation’s educational focus.

A series of committee meetings in January will set the stage for the next developments in the foundation’s projects, including setting up a detailed strategic plan for the foundation’s fund-raising efforts and encouraging teachers to apply for future grants.