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.

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