Photo courtesy of the WCHS Educational Foundation
With such a wide array of highly productive and innovative students and staff at WCHS, a source for funding of school projects and events has become quite the necessity. For many years now, funding for some of the school’s largest endeavors has come from the WCHS Educational Foundation.
The Educational Foundation is a volunteer organization that focuses on assisting students and teachers in the WCHS community. Their primary goal is to enhance educational experience by harnessing the intellectual and financial resources of individuals, corporations and foundations.
“The Educational Foundation serves to raise money to give back to the school in ways that the county cannot provide,” senior Michael Janis said. “We provide grants to assist student clubs, send teachers on training experiences and better the learning environment.”
The Educational Foundation was created over fifteen years ago with the intention of providing additional funds to meet the unique needs of the WCHS community. Over the years, the organization, made up of volunteering faculty, students and parents, has worked to ensure educational development.
“Dr. Benz and a group of dedicated parents, alumni and administrators started the foundation to bridge the financial gap between the school and county,” chairperson Aman Shergill said. “Since its inception, mainly through generous donations, we have been able to provide critical funds to address a unique set of needs for our students and teachers.”
Over the course of its history at WCHS, the Educational Foundation has greatly influenced and improved the resources, materials and technology utilized by students and staff every day. Through their funding for equipment, including Chromebooks and Promethean boards, the foundation has consistently enhanced the overall student environment at WCHS.
“Most of the foundation’s service is based around finding necessities or issues within our school, and then addressing those needs through funding,” principal Brandice Heckert said. “In the past, we have funded for autoclaves, 3D printing systems, Chromebook carts and Promethean boards. We are now looking into upgrading our special education classrooms by providing more adaptive resources and materials for those students.”
While the foundation works to discover new areas of the school that could benefit from funding, there are also applications to request for grants on their website. Through this process, students can apply on behalf of different clubs, while staff can request for materials and resources. Once submitted, these applications are looked over by the foundation and ultimately signed off by principal Heckert.
“Typically, the Educational Foundation awards grants that meet foundation guidelines,” Shergill said. “Some are fully funded, while others are partially funded. This school year alone, the foundation’s donations have ranged from 250 dollars for Mr. Bell, head of our security department, to attend a training course, all the way to 4,000 dollars for wireless microphones for the arts department.”
In addition to the effort put in by the WCHS staff members, the organization benefits greatly from the volunteer service of their student members. The students support the goals of the foundation by providing a younger perspective of the school’s needs, searching for new projects in need of funding and building community involvement.
“I wanted to make a real impact in the way our school funds projects, communicates with the community and supports every single student in the WCHS community for future success,” junior Will Ahn said. “My involvement in multiple school events and my passion and dedication to helping the community has allowed me to serve on the Educational Foundation.”
In order to plan for the future, the Educational Foundation has been looking for ways to improve their advertisements and public relations among the WCHS community. Along with these goals, the foundation also wishes to spread its influence and support to the elementary and middle schools that support WCHS.
“The foundation recently met to discuss strategic plans for marketing and advertising, along with showing who we are and what we’re interested in doing within the next few years,” Heckert said. “Starting this year, part of our focus is to branch out and support the WCHS cluster to provide more program funding and resource allocations for our elementary and middle schools.”
Although the foundation primarily focuses on issues relating to academics and the school environment, they have occasionally set aside funds for more entertaining purposes, like featuring the Harlem Wizards. The event, held last March, raised over 22 thousand dollars for the foundation and WCHS.
“Last year we held a fundraiser with the Harlem Wizards at WCHS,” Heckert said. “A percentage of the money raised from the event went back to support our schools. We are also planning to hold a color run this April, and the money raised will go into the foundation.”
Even though the work and effort put in by the Educational Foundation has often gone under the radar for many people, the dedication of the numerous volunteering students, parents and staff has left a largely positive impact on the WCHS community. It is thanks to their generosity and service that we have access to many resources that others might not have the same privileges to.
“The Educational Foundation always seeks new technology that can be improved upon in our everyday school life,” Janis said. “We are currently setting our goals for the next few years on specific ways we plan on upgrading school life.”
The WCHS Educational Foundation is on the lookout for new school plans and projects to fund. For more information, please visit their website at www.wchsfoundation.org, or follow their social media on Twitter and Facebook.