By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence is seeking nominations for its 2014 Outstanding Program Awards for Local Education Foundations. OFE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to recognizing and encouraging academic excellence in Oklahoma’s public schools.
The foundation annually recognizes innovative programs sponsored or administered by public school foundations. Trophies and monetary awards of $1,000 each will be presented to honorees at the Fall Forum for Local Education Foundations on October 21.
Recognized programs may include mentoring, arts integration, student leadership development, curriculum enhancement, student scholarships, professional development for teachers, public relations and fundraising.
Nominations for recognition may come from foundation board members or anyone in the community knowledgeable about the foundation. Only one program per foundation may be nominated for recognition.
Karen Rose, director of Local Education Foundation Outreach said, “Over the years, we have honored education foundations across our state such as Cheyenne, Claremore, Putnam City, Tulsa, Moore, Sand Springs and many others for the outstanding jobs they do in supporting their local schools.”
“Our hope is to not only provide recognition to deserving foundations, but also to provide program ideas that other foundations can replicate in their districts.
“We have a lot of very good things going on in education in Oklahoma that people should know and support,” Rose added.
The foundation’s Local Education Foundations (LEF) Outstanding Program Award Selection Committee will notify winners by May 1.
Brenda Wheelock, OFE Director of Communications and Development said, “Oklahoma public school foundations and their volunteers are doing amazing things to help students and teachers in their communities. They deserve this special recognition and support.”
Since 1987, the foundation has awarded more than $4 million in merit-based scholarships and awards.
Oklahoma has more than 220 public school foundations, more per capita than any other state in the nation. These citizen-led, non-profit organizations serve as a bridge between the community and the school district. They raise private dollars to complement existing school budgets while stimulating community involvement in the advancement of their schools.
“We wanted to encourage foundations to work with their district and find creative programs to help meet the districts greatest needs, so we created the Outstanding Program Award in 2006,” said Wheelock.
One prior award recipient is the Cheyenne Educational Foundation’s Life 101 Seminar for Graduating seniors. The seminar provides a full-day workshop on things student will need to know when they graduate such as how to buy a car, apply for health insurance, hire an attorney, or use proper etiquette at a formal dinner.
Rick Garrison, Cheyenne Public Schools Superintendent said, “Armed with the knowledge gained in this seminar, students will feel capable of making important decisions that will affect their future success.”
Last year a surprise Outstanding Program Award was presented to the Moore Public Schools Foundation in recognition of its exceptional response to the May 20 tornado.
“We were impressed with how the foundation immediately came to the aid of the district and partnered with First American Bank to create a relief fund and an emergency website to receive charitable gifts,” said OFE President Les Risser.
The Moore Foundation raised nearly $1 million for Moore Public Schools tornado relief.
“We were also moved by how – in the midst of chaos and personal loss – foundation officers juggled duties to ensure that the organization could fully support the school district in its recovery.”
Oklahoma City metro area programs that have been recognized in recent years include the Homeless Student Education Fund, Mid-Del Public Schools Foundation; the Parent Tool Kits for the Early Birds Childhood School Readiness and Parent Education Program, Putnam City; and the Teachers Warehouse, Oklahoma City.
Available online at www.ofe.org, nomination forms must be postmarked by March 14 and mailed to the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, 120 N. Robinson, Suite 1420-W, Oklahoma City, OK, 73102.
For more information call 918-743-5533 or e-mail [email protected].