Teachers receive surprise visits by Grant Committee

LPS Education Foundation thankful for support Yoga ball seats, additional technology, Battle of the Books reading materials, STEM and Robotics equipment, and even a mobile greenhouse are just a few of the items that students in Livonia Public Schools will enjoy, thanks to the LPS Education Foundation.

The LPS Education Foundation’s grant program received 42 proposals for funding, this school year. The grant committee, made up of retired LPS staff, administrators and a retired LPS school board member, used a strict set of criteria to score each proposal. Seventeen were selected, totaling $31,000. Those grants were awarded to 24 teachers throughout the district. Surprise visits by committee members, with oversized checks, topped off this exciting day in LPS.

The grant program, funded through donations to the LPS Education Foundation, has issued $213,000 to 107 teachers since the program began during the 2013-2014 school year.

LPS Education Foundation thankful for support

Community support for the LPS Education Foundation continued this fall, as some 225 guests attended the annual fundraising luncheon event at St. Mary’s Cultural and Banquet Center to benefit the Foundation’s Competitive Edge College Savings Program.

“It is a tribute to our community that you’ve once again filled this room,” said Diane Policelli, president of the LPS Education Foundation, while addressing the crowd at the November 14 event.

Unique to LPS, the Competitive Edge Program offers families of kindergarten students the opportunity to enroll in this free program that allows them to start planning for post-secondary education or a skills training program.

The Foundation contributes seed money to an educational savings account and those funds grow throughout the child’s LPS educational career. Upon graduation from LPS, the funds may be used for any post-secondary education or skills training program. Since its inception in 2008, the Competitive Edge program has proudly enrolled nearly 3,000 students.

The luncheon was chaired by Jay Young, who is a Foundation director, and was emceed by WJR Sports Director Steve Courtney. The keynote speaker was Edward J. Peper, Jr., U.S. Vice President for General Motors Fleet. Peper emphasized that GM’s energy vision for the future is self-driving, electric vehicles that result in zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. He demonstrated that goal by showing a video of a self-driving car safely navigating the streets of San Francisco.

Peper also shared the three tenets of his success during his long career with GM: the opportunity to receive a great education; the opportunity to participate on athletic teams; and remembering to always treat every person he encounters with dignity and respect.

“I’ve been blessed with amazing opportunities,” he said, adding that he draws inspiration from others, including Duke University Basketball Coach Krzyzewski, who once said, “You’ll never accomplish alone, the things you’ll accomplish with other people.”

Best year ever for Bounce Back to School

The 2018-2019 school year was welcomed with great excitement at this year’s Bounce Back to School event, held at Riley Upper Elementary on August 23. This annual party, which saw an estimated 1,000 guests, raised a record-breaking $10,000 for the LPS Education Foundation. These funds benefit the Foundation’s Competitive Edge program.

Boasting 13 inflatable attractions, four face paint artists, four balloon twisters, a petting zoo, horse and pony rides, sno-cones, cotton candy, and delicious concessions, there was something for everything and fun was had by all! We can’t wait for next year!


Bounce Your Way Back to School!

We are jumping up and down to celebrate the beginning of the new school year!

Mark your calendar for August 23!

Big shout-out to the Michigan Educational Credit Union!

Marking its 11th year of support for the Livonia Public Schools Education Foundation, the Michigan Educational Credit Union recently presented a generous check for $10,000, which will help support the Competitive Edge College Savings program for LPS families.

MECU is dedicated to the mission of the LPS Education Foundation and has been since 2007. MECU supports the Foundation’s efforts to expand the educational resources for students and assist parents in planning for their children’s post-secondary education.

MECU is a founding partner of the LPS Education Foundation, making its first donation in 2007. The cumulative gifts total $110,000 over that time period.

The LPS Education Foundation’s Competitive Edge program establishes a 529 educational trust account for any LPS parent of a kindergartner who enrolls in the program. An initial $100 gift is made by the Foundation, with additional contributions from the Foundation, as budgets allow. The Foundation currently has nearly 2,500 students enrolled in the program, and MECU has generously donated the funding over the past 11 years to contribute to the accounts of 1,100 students enrolled.

The LPS Education Foundation and the community are grateful and proud to have MECU as a dedicated partner.

Community support continues for LPS Education Foundation

Luncheon 2017

Keynote speaker Ron Fournier talked about politics, both past and present.

Seat by seat, table by table, the room filled with more than 230 supporters of the LPS Education Foundation, during its annual fundraising luncheon held Nov. 8 at St. Mary’s Cultural and Banquet Center in Livonia.

From business and education to faith and non-profits, it was a tremendous show of support, according to LPS Education Foundation President Diane Policelli.

“It is a tribute to our community and to the LPS Education Foundation that you have filled the room to show your support,” said Policelli.

Luncheon chairman Jay Young said several people have commented that this is a “must attend” event, each year, because it serves as a major source of funding for the Foundation’s Competitive Edge College Savings Program.

The Foundation offers to set up a college savings trust account for each kindergarten student in Livonia Public Schools, with an initial deposit made by the Foundation and additional contributions being added by the Foundation, each year, as budgets allow. Once the student graduates from LPS, he or she can use the accumulated funds toward a college, trade or any other post-secondary program, anywhere in the nation.

Since the Competitive Edge program began in 2008, the Foundation has set up savings accounts for nearly 2,500 students and has donated almost $350,000 to the students’ accounts. For the current school year, the Foundation added 420 students to the program.

LPS parent Amy Schilbe took advantage of Competitive Edge by signing up her kindergartener last school year.

“Even though college seems very far off, it’s great to know that we already have a start, thanks to the generosity of the LPS Education Foundation,” said Schilbe. “This is a unique program that is not found in most school districts.”

The eighth annual luncheon is the main fund-raising event for the program, and always features “outstanding” guest speakers, noted Young.

This year, Crain’s Detroit Business editor and publisher Ron Fournier offered stories from his political reporting career and political insight into today’s local and national landscape. The Detroit native is an award-winning and critically acclaimed political contributor to The Atlantic who started his career in Arkansas, covering then-governor Bill Clinton, before moving to Washington DC to cover the politics and the presidency during the administrations of Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Fournier also served as a 2005 fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics, where he co-wrote the New York Times best seller, Applebee’s America.

Each year, hometown favorite, Steve Courtney, WJR sports director, serves as host and emcee, offering a dose of humor to the event.

More about the Foundation

The LPS Education Foundation’s grant program is in its fifth year, and has distributed 85 grants totaling $183,000 to LPS classrooms, schools and departments. Each year, LPS teachers and non-instructional staff may apply for a Foundation grant to fund a special project, equipment or other needs that may be outside of the district’s budget.

A grant committee reviews the applications and selects which requests will be funded. A group of grant committee members recently paid 24 staff members a surprise visit, with over-sized checks in hand.

“This is a wonderful gift from the Education Foundation that we are very proud of,” said Policelli.

Grants are funded, in part, by staff donations which are matched by the Foundation. A Champions program was established to ensure staff awareness and to help generate and maintain financial support for the program. Additional donations for the grant program are made by corporate and individual donors.

The Foundation also operates a literacy program, which provides one-on-one or small group literacy tutoring for elementary school students. The program enables retired LPS staff members the opportunity to continue to make a difference in students’ lives.

Masco supports the LPS Foundation

Recently Masco Corporation presented the Livonia Public Schools Education Foundation with a very generous contribution.

Shown here from left to right are Paul Condon-Foundation Director, Sue Sabo-Director of Communications and Corporate Giving for Masco Corporation, Diane Policelli-President LPS Education Foundation and Andrea Oquist-Superintendent of Livonia Public Schools.

 Masco Corporation recently moved its world headquarters to Livonia and has made an impact on many local charitable groups including the LPS Education Foundation.  “We are so very honored to have such a fine company as a partner in our mission” said Paul Condon.  “Their support will go a long way in aiding our efforts to enhance the educational experience of all students in the Livonia School District.”

AmazonSmile: A new way to support the LPS Education Foundation!

The LPS Education Foundation has partnered with AmazonSmile!

AmazonSmile works this way: When first visiting AmazonSmile, customers are prompted to select a charitable organization from almost one million eligible organizations. In order to browse or shop at AmazonSmile, customers must first select a charitable organization.

For eligible purchases at AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the customer’s selected charitable organization.

Click here for the direct link to the LPS Education Foundation’s AmazonSmile page.  Be sure to bookmark this link in your browser so that  0.5% of your purchase price will benefit the LPS Foundation!

Thank you, MECU!

The LPS Education Foundation was presented with a $10,000 dollar check from Michigan Educational Credit Union on Monday February 13th to benefit the Competitive Edge College Savings Program.  Seen here are Andrea Oquist Superintendent of Livonia Public Schools, Wendy Marquette representing MECU and Paul Condon, board member on the LPS Education Foundation.  “The donation will go a long way to support the mission of the LPS Education Foundation and we thank Michigan Educational Credit Union for their continued and generous support”, said Paul Condon.

Teachers surprised by LPS Foundation classroom grant awards

Members of the LPS Education Foundation recently took to the streets on a good will tour, traveling to 14 schools to deliver 19 classroom grants to unsuspecting, but very appreciative, teachers.

The surprise presentations of over-sized checks brought huge smiles to the faces of the teachers who wrote compelling grant requests to fund a classroom project, initiative, equipment, supplies or materials that will benefit their students.

The LPS Education Foundation received 29 grant requests, totaling nearly $83,000 and was able to award 19 grants, totaling $42,000. Now in its fourth year, the grant program is supported by the LPS Education Foundation’s designated funds, community contributions and employee payroll deductions to the Foundation.

Grant requests support the district’s mission, vision and curriculum.

“The day that we distribute the grant awards to staff is the highlight of the process,” said Lorna Durand, who is a retired LPS administrator and chair of the grant review committee. “We are always impressed by the commitment, passion and vision that each applicant presents in their proposal. While the review process is intense, it is well worth it, as we are witness to the staff and student excitement and appreciation as well as to the innovation and success the grants have provided the past four school years.”

Awardees include:

  • Colleen Nowak, Kennedy Elementary: Books for the school’s Battle of the Books program for third and fourth graders.
  • Caryl Dazer, Cass and Cleveland elementary schools: DrumFit cardio drumming physical fitness program.
  • Dr. Jennifer Clay, Roosevelt Elementary: i-Ready math assessment for at-risk math students.
  • Alicia Bashawaty, Kennedy Elementary: Makerspace improvements
  • Patricia Cooke, Coolidge Elementary: Classroom technology – Chromebooks
  • Kathy Frame and Natalie Cicchelli, Webster Elementary: Newsela Chromebook project
  • Janice Skibinski, Hoover Elementary: Classroom technology — Chromebooks
  • Jackie McPherson, Garfield Elementary: Literacy materials for Great Start Readiness Program
  • Elizabeth Gostomski, Kennedy Elementary: Flexible classroom seating
  • Elizabeth Hering, Churchill High School: Composer workshops and commissioned work to tie in with grand opening of new CHS theater in November 2018.
  • Megan Bruestle, Riley Upper Elementary: Classroom technology – Chromebooks
  • Julie Juenemann, Cooper Upper Elementary: Project Wisdom character education program
  • Karen Grima, Western Wayne Skill Center: Technology for nonverbal and limited verbal students with austism.
  • Lori Marsh, Kennedy Elementary: Adaptive technology for students with visual impairments.
  • John Farkas and Nikki Wojciechowski, Holmes Middle School: Collaborative learning with Chromebooks
  • Kathy Weaver, Johnson Upper Elementary: Project Wisdom character education program.
  • Jacqueline Price, Franklin High School: Books for classroom libraries in English Department classes
  • David Roesser, Franklin High School: Equipment and supplies for drafting program.
  • Sherry Juncaj and Shawn Parsons, Riley Upper Elementary: Character education initiative, ‘Wonder.’

Durand said the grant applications are screened for how much a proposal benefits students. At the end of each school year, the grant recipients share the results of the grants with members of the LPS Education Foundation.

“We have been impressed with the results each year and the positive impact not only on those students but on those schools and the district,” said Durand.

The grant program is just one of several programs of the LPS Education Foundation, which raises funds all year, through community business partnerships and support, the annual fall luncheon event, the LPS Bounce Back to School event as well as LPS employee contributions.