Lake Central Education Foundation
Martha Sandoval of the Schererville Chamber of Commerce first suggested the development of a local education foundation in the winter of 1995-1996. She gathered a small group of like-minded community members, and the Lake Central Education Foundation was begun. In the summer of 1996, the group marched in parades, handed out pamphlets at community events, and solicited its first members through a mass mailing. By that fall, the LCEF had generated enough money to offer its first round of grants. Eleven grants, for a total of $3,892.00, were awarded. As they say, the rest is history.
As of Spring 2009, the LCEF has awarded 365 grants for a total of $184,812. Every school and several community groups have received funding from us. We also provide a $500 scholarship to a deserving Lake Central senior each year.
The usual pattern of our giving includes two rounds of grants per school year, one in the fall and another in the spring. Traditionally, we offer a smaller round in the fall than in the spring. Maximum grant amounts have ranged from $250 to $1500.
We usually stick to a generic grant format, allowing staff or community members to apply for any type of innovative student learning activity. However, from time to time we like to encourage certain initiatives in the school. Therefore, we have been known to offer rounds that encourage science, interdisciplinary activities, higher order thinking skills, and so on.
When the foundation was five years old, we began to feel that the same people were applying for grants over and over again. We wanted to encourage more teachers to apply. Therefore, Round #11 was dubbed the “Rookie Round,” and applications were only accepted from those who had never received an LCEF grant before. When Clark Middle School was built and many teachers were in new buildings, new positions, or just plain new, we offered “Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes” and gave over $8000 to help the newbies better establish themselves.
In 2004, the Lake Central Education Foundation reached a milestone. We had given over $100,000 to the Lake Central School Corporation. We decided to throw a party to celebrate. The banquet was called the 100 Grand Celebration. Despite a raging snowstorm, an elegant dinner was held at Meyer’s Castle on January 25, 2005.
During its first decade, the Lake Central Education Foundation was supported almost entirely by memberships, Garfield license plates, fundraising, and donations. In 1996, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation allowing license bureaus to offer an education plate. The purchaser pays $40.00, designates Lake Central as the school district, and $18.75 comes to the LCEF. So far, we have received over $70,000 from the Garfield plates.
In the past few years, we have become more aggressive in our fundraising. Two years ago we held our first Fall Back 5 K/2.5 Mile Walk. This annual event is held each November. Another newer lucrative fundraiser is the Culver’s custard sale. Representatives from Culver’s go to the middle schools and high school on specified days and sell cones to the students. We continue to dabble in miscellaneous fundraisers, keeping only the best on an annual basis.
LCEF also seeks grants of its own. For three years we have received funding from INAPEF (Indiana Association of Public Education Foundations). In 2006, we were awarded $866.00 in seed money for our first reverse raffle. In 2007, a grant for $1783.00 helped us jump-start our membership program. In 2008, we were given $1015 to use for technology (namely, a new laptop) to organize our membership and financial data.
We know that funding, particularly the Garfield plates, can dry up at any moment. Therefore,the board decided to create an endowment. Ten percent of our total income is endowed with the Legacy Foundation each year. We have over $20,000 in our endowment today.
Some of the original members of the Lake Central Education Foundation remain today. Others have come and gone. One thing remains the same: we are proud of the Lake Central School Corporation, and we are dedicated to making it thrive.