Why We’re Donating to Preston Education Foundation
Irasema and Avery Jeffers
It’s with great enthusiasm that we’re committing $60,000 to the Preston Education Foundation. A donation in that amount is not an easy choice and decided over the last several years of committing to making Preston our home. In the previous three years, we've tried to participate in the many charity organizations in our area who tirelessly fundraise for anything from food baskets to sending children on trips overseas. In selecting foundations to support, we looked specifically at how the organizations operated, the diversity of the members, and the ability to actively allocate funds to impact our community in the short and long-term directly.
Why the Education Foundation?
My husband and I came from families that definitely didn’t have any wealth or family connections to get ahead. Poverty was real in our daily lives growing up, and working toward educational opportunities was how we found our path to a better life. With the PEF, we hope to build a similar path for what is the largest segment of our area’s population: children.
There are many opinions on how to better improve schools in rural or urban areas. There have also been many decisions in Idaho like the 2006 tax change from property to sales tax for school funding or economic events like the 2008 recession, that continue to have an impact on our school resources. Idaho teachers have the lowest salaries in the U.S, and the Preston School district often cited as an example for low per-student funding. Many school districts, like ours, rely on education foundations in an attempt to make up for the gaps.
Do we think our donation will fix everything? No. What we do know, is that if we give our educators a chance to try different learning methods (without having to dip into their own pockets), the outcomes can be an improvement in long-term local economic growth, which in turn positively affects continuing to improve school funding. In that, we feel the PEF is the right organization to make this a reality.
Over the last two years, we’ve worked with the PEF in a trial period with a total of $10,000 in donations. The 4th and 5th-grade teachers were terrific, using funds to bring about improved learning experiences in and out of their classrooms. With their leadership they have:
- Purchased magnetic dry erase boards for classroom instruction
- Included tablets in classrooms for supplemental instruction
- Taken a field trip to an aquarium
- Purchased STEM kits
Going forward, we are committing an additional $50,000. Every year, $5,000 will be given directly for teachers to use in that school year. Working directly with an education foundation representative and us as advisors, teachers will be the ultimate decision-makers in how to spend the funds. As professional educators, we feel they are the best suited to determine what their classrooms need, and having a fund that isn’t held back in administrative hurdles gives them the freedom to explore new ways of improving education.
Active Donor Giving
We realize that there are many ways to give. Our approach is to be active donors. Instead of general giving where one hopes that the funds go to a cause or need, we work directly with the foundations to ensure funds are given to those intended and will actively gauge the effectiveness of the donations.
As active donors, we want to be part of the community, not just bystanders hoping things change or grow. After spending years as Marine Corps officers, it’s also part of our nature to lead from the front, observe the environment around, and act. This is just part one in multiple acts of charitable giving that will have a positive impact on the children, educators, and the Preston community we’ve made our home.