When Pam Walker accepted the position of Executive Director of the Education Foundation of Teton Valley in 2015, her goal was eventually to build an endowment for the organization. Thanks to two anonymous donors, her dream is coming true.
“Several years ago, a generous local donor approached me about jumpstarting our endowment,” explained Walker. “They offered us $50,000 a year for five years if we could match it. I was floored, shaken and excited. Could we raise $250,000 for an endowment on top of raising funds for operations and programs?”
After three years and some major obstacles, including the pandemic, the Education Foundation Board of Directors has raised $202,250. “My dearest wish was to complete the capital campaign before I retire on March 12,” said Walker, “but the pandemic really put a halt to doing anything but just surviving. Without our major fundraising events, we needed to ensure we had money to continue our work in the schools without any drastic reductions. With an exceptional Tin Cup campaign, donations from private donors, and a virtual silent auction, we have the funds we need to sustain our work through the next Tin Cup.”
Walker continued, “When I mentioned this regret to another wonderful long-time supporter, they emailed me a couple of days later, saying, ‘Let’s do this!’--and then gave an additional $12,500 challenge gift to help raise the remaining dollars. In other words, this donor has given EFTV the opportunity to match a gift twice: a $1,000 donation now becomes a $3,000 gift. “I will honor their desire to remain anonymous,” said Walker, “but I hope they know this is one of the most precious and significant gifts I could ever receive on behalf of the organization I love.”
The purpose of the endowment is to provide more opportunities and sustain the Education Foundation well into the future. According to board chair Nan Pugh, “We view the endowment as an opportunity fund. With the draw from a fully funded endowment, we will be able to respond quickly to needs as they arise. Several years ago, when we wanted to start a secondary foreign language program in the elementary schools, we had to wait a year to raise the necessary funds. If we had had an endowment, we could have used the interest drawn to jumpstart the program rather than delay a year,” explained Pugh.” In addition, if we ever face another economic downturn, we could confidently weather the storm.”
With 90 percent of the $250,000 goal met, the Education Foundation moved from the private phase to the public phase on February 10, with a Teton Valley News article. “I was waiting to finalize the recognition wall before we made an announcement, but it’s time we just got ‘er done, as they say,” said Walker.
Kristin Livingstone, the new Executive Director for the Education Foundation, will be finalizing the Endowment Recognition Wall conceptualized by local architect Garett Chadwick of GPC Architects. “We are working with the District to place the recognition wall at Teton High School,” said Walker. “All donors will be recognized on the wall but individuals or businesses who donate $1,000 or more will have their own separate plaque. With each increased level of giving, the plaques will increase in size and visibility.”
“I was just hoping to retire without a lot of fanfare,” said Walker. “But with this new opportunity, I’m just putting myself right out there to finish this project and make sure that what my board and I have built, with the help of so many generous folks in the valley, will go on forever. I guess that’s worth the exposure! So—one final ask from me, can you help us meet our goal of raising $35,250 by March 12?”
The Education Foundation will be accepting pledges and outright gifts to meet this match, as well as gifts of stocks and securities. To make a stock or securities gift, email the Education Foundation’s financial advisor, Justin Bowersock with Rockhill Advisors at firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks can be mailed to PO Box 1111 Driggs ID 83422. Online donations can be made at www.tetoneducation.org