Tuesday December 13, 2016

A Year of Focus

Focus. Alignment. Impact. These key words help tell the story of The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools’ 2016 endeavors and accomplishments.

Our Focus has been on The Foundation’s mission: To advance excellence, create champions and build strong community support for lasting change in Oklahoma City Public Schools. Defining our strategic areas with comprehensive planning has allowed us to further our mission. Our working board and our broader, mission-driven committee structure provides leadership and guidance as we develop and expand our programs and initiatives.

Our Alignment with Oklahoma City Public Schools has developed into a true partner relationship. We communicate often and effectively to evaluate and course correct as needed. We work very closely with Superintendent Aurora Lora and her team. We share her vision to create a rich educational experience for every student in our district. Alignment with the community is also ongoing and we develop relationships with partners who are committed to engaging with OKCPS and The Foundation in meaningful ways.

The Impact of our work is making a difference in many ways and ties back to our strategic focus areas.

Providing Innovative Support To Teachers

Our partnership with DonorsChoose.org ranks as the largest it has with an education foundation. We have assisted with funding 1,478 projects for 822 teachers, with a total financial impact of $875,650. That money has provided benefits for 152,085 students. Generous donors have supported these efforts, and a special thank you needs to go to the McLaughlin Foundation, Sonic and the district employee giving campaign. We also thank the Kirkpatrick Foundation, whose grant funds art-related projects. The growth in project funding so far this school year has us on pace to nearly triple the number of projects funded last school year.

Increasing Community Engagement and Awareness

The Partners in Action initiative we launched late last year has developed into a vital force for connecting community partners with schools. More than 250 matches were made, providing school leaders with vital tools, including caring adult volunteers to work with students, teacher-appreciation gifts, specialty and school uniforms and much more. The Foundation hosted community partner networking events at three high schools with feeder pattern schools, and hundreds of in-person connections were made.

The Foundation also led efforts to raise money for the district’s Coat-A-Kid campaign. We surpassed our $140,000 goal to purchase new winter coats. We also improved our communications this year by adding a monthly e-newsletter, widely viewed social media posts, a bi-monthly column in The Oklahoman and presentations that share our message throughout the community.

Supporting English Language Learning Programs

We launched the Bilingual Teacher Pipeline Project in January 2016 and currently have 28 bilingual paraprofessionals from Oklahoma City Public Schools attending college to become certified teachers. Our education partners and OKCPS provide a great deal of support for this program as do generous grants from the Inasmuch Foundation and Boeing. Once certified, these people will fill a much-needed role in the classroom. We are growing our own and providing upward mobility for our participants and their families, while filling a great need in our classrooms.

Providing Teacher and Leader Professional Development

Our continued support of the Urban Teacher Preparation Academy has allowed the program to expand its recruitment efforts and help prepare new teachers for challenges they will face. The Foundation provided stipends to 59 UTPA participants and teacher mentors throughout 2016 as well as support for professional development meetings.

Additional highlights from 2016:

• Our events were attended by nearly 1,500 long-time and new supporters. Our events included All Hands Raised, Teacher of the Year/Stars of Education and Wall of Fame. We also hosted two principal appreciation receptions and two principal training meetings, as well as The Great Commitment ratification event.
• The Foundation participates as a member of the OKCPS Compact and is leading efforts to launch ReadOKC, a community-wide literacy initiative.
• The Foundation received a 4-star rating by Charity Navigator in June 2016. Charity Navigator ranks nonprofits for their transparency and governance. Only 2 percent of nonprofits in the nation receive the 4-star rating, the highest marks.
• In addition to sharing the message about our work and the story of OKCPS, we assisted in promoting and communicating the necessity of passing a $180 million bond to maintain OKCPS schools, which passed with a super majority.

As 2016 comes to an end, it is so important to reflect upon and celebrate successes that have made a difference in our schools. We must also take time to again thank our Foundation Partners, event sponsors and every donor, large and small. Each donation allows us to continue our important work and we thank you sincerely.

We cannot lose sight of the long road still ahead. We have made so much progress in the past year, but the needs for our school district continue to grow. Our students, all 46,000 of them, are counting on us. It will take continued focus, alignment and impact to create lasting change. Thank you for supporting our efforts in 2016 and in the new year to come.

As always, find more about The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools on our website, on our Facebook page or our Twitter.

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