Group seeks volunteers, donors

by: JILLIAN DALEY - Chris Miller, left, the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation's campaign chairwoman, and foundation executive director Sara Patinkin discussed campaign plans at a campaign captain training meeting JILLIAN DALEY - During a Lake Oswego Schools Foundation campaign captain training meeting Friday, attendees, including, from left, Tom Krueger, Kathy LaVee and Laura James, discussed how to best approach potential donors.Lake Oswego Schools Foundation’s executive director aims to motivate the community to come within striking distance of $2.2 million, its record-breaking 2010-11 campaign total.

Sara Patinkin has set the foundation’s campaign goal at $2 million this year, $300,000 more than last year’s campaign brought in. To hit the mark by June 30, Patinkin and the nonprofit organization’s board members are recruiting more volunteers to ask almost 80 percent of local families to contribute.

The campaign, at $300,000 so far, could fund four more teachers than it did last year if all goes well. About 95 percent of donations go to teachers, supporting 20 jobs last year: 13 percent of the district’s full-time teachers. Intensifying the nonprofit organization’s fundraising efforts comes at a fortuitous time with Lake Oswego School District officials cutting $5 million from the budget within the next two years, after trimming $1 million this fiscal year.

“Our entire community — from parents, local businesses, school district staff and teachers, to people who do not have children in our schools — are incredibly generous and understand the value of our excellent schools,” Patinkin said. “We hope our community will continue to raise the bar and invest in our schools.”

The foundation’s big fundraiser will return — the 19th annual luncheon and silent auction at the Oswego Lake Country Club, which draws 200 to 300 people. This year’s luncheon, set for Feb. 18, will feature a high-powered speaker: New Seasons Markets Chief Administrative Officer Michelle Lantow.

But Patinkin and the foundation board are stepping up volunteer recruitment. There were 200 parent volunteers last year, and volunteer captains at each school spearhead school fundraisers for the foundation and ask other community members to give their time. Volunteers increase outreach efforts in the spring, including the phonathon.

Besides phoning people, current outreach avenues include texting, posting to Facebook and tweeting, and Chris Miller, the foundation’s campaign chairwoman, is considering adding Instagram.

Miller is on the foundation board and said the group has a positive energy and is really coming together — and she said many in the community also are eager to help.

“We’re raising $2 million to have an exceptional school district, and what could be better than that?” said Miller, whose son is a freshman at Lake Oswego High School.

Increasing volunteers could help attract more donors. More than 2,800 families gave in 2012-13 — 240 of whom joined the foundation’s Starkweather Society, a group for those who give $1,250 or more apiece. The participation goal this year is about 80 percent of the 4,700 local families — or 3,700 families, Patinkin said.

Potential donors are more inclined to contribute after they learn more about the organization, said John Goerges, foundation board member and Westridge Elementary School parent.

“The education piece is incredibly valuable, especially so they know who we are and where we are coming from,” Goerges said.

The foundation raised $1.7 million last fiscal year and $1.8 million in 2011-12. The dollars support all schools in the disrict: math and reading specialists at elementary schools and, for junior high and schools, teachers in electives and the core subjects such as math and English.

Providing more teachers is definitely positive, said Robert Caplinger, Lake Oswego Junior High School principal.

“More teachers translates into lower class sizes,” Caplinger said.

Smaller class sizes allow teachers to provide more individualized care, and the community support is heartening to students and school employees, said Lakeridge High School Assistant Principal Rollin Dickinson.

“The students come in feeling supported, knowing they’re a part of something special and good as a part of the best schools in the state,” Dickinson said.

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