D51 group raising money for schools

The School District 51 Foundation plans to launch its first targeted fundraising effort by the end of the year.

The foundation has collected about $7,000 in private donations since it became a nonprofit organization this spring, according to its coordinator, Jennifer Hensel Hildebrandt. The foundation’s board of trustees met this week to discuss how to ramp up fundraising efforts now that the organization is a few months old and voters have rejected a mill levy override proposed by the district.

The override’s failure in the Nov. 1 election inspired the new campaign for the foundation. Hildebrandt said the foundation will host a “membership drive” that will ask those who did or did not vote for the override to consider donating to the foundation the amount they would have spent on the override.

“We think there will be some success with that idea. There have been some people floating that idea” and some have already sent checks, Hildebrandt said.

A one-time check would be appreciated, but Hildebrandt said the real goal of the drive is to get people to donate on a regular basis for the six-year period the override would have lasted.

The foundation does not want its fundraising drive to discourage people from donating to school parent-teacher organizations and booster clubs if people want to support a school function, Hildebrandt said.

“The foundation supports that, but we’re looking at the bigger picture: having a central location for donations to District 51,” she said.

That central location allows the district to draw from one pool of money for districtwide projects, such as rehiring teachers, covering state budget cuts and purchasing technology for local public schools. Those are items the district planned to cover at least in part with override money.

Hildebrandt, who was hired by the district as a grant writer and foundation coordinator two months ago, said the override’s defeat helped shape the direction of the foundation.

“The immediate need is budget cuts. If 3B had passed, the need would look different, so the foundation would look different,” she said.

So far, the foundation has paid for one item: it’s 501c3 nonprofit status.

About $6,200 remains in foundation coffers.

To send donations to the foundation, mail checks to District 51, Attn: Foundation,  2115 Grand Ave., Grand Junction 81501. Hildebrandt said the foundation plans to add a way to donate online through the foundation’s website, d51foundation.org.


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