This year the federal grant that had funded public afterschool ran dry, so a committee formed to fill that gap. Now with a newly hired executive director, the committee is working to establish a new valley nonprofit.
Diane Temple comes to the role of afterschool executive and program director from the Teton Regional Land Trust, where she worked for three years as the development director. Before that she served part time as the executive director of both the Teton Valley Education Foundation and the Teton Valley Hospital Foundation.
In 2013 Temple, working with Jenna Beck, district federal programs director, wrote the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant that has funded afterschool for five years. Now she’s excited to be back after a three-year hiatus from the school district to replace that funding with a philanthropic entity closer to home.
Nan Pugh, a member of the advisory committee and the school board with ties to the Community Foundation of Teton Valley and the TVEF, said the committee feels incredibly lucky to have hired someone with so much nonprofit and education experience.
The 21st Century grant is very competitive, Temple explained, and while the district has several Title I schools, it didn’t reach the need rating of more impoverished counties in the state during this grant cycle.
The seed was planted at last year’s Tin Cup Challenge Award Party, when CFTV executive director Carrie Mowrey and Teton Valley Community School director Michelle Heaton had a conversation about the education gaps in the community.
“Without their vision and leadership we wouldn’t be here,” Pugh said. “One of the things I love about the Community Foundation so much is that when they see a big need not being met, they can step in and help to bring others together.”
Earlier this year the CFTV awarded the advisory committee $10,000 to jumpstart a pilot summer school program, which served between 40 and 50 kids this year. Former program director Spencer Hennigan hasn’t completed the final report on summer school yet but Pugh said it seemed to be a success.
The advisory committee is made up of representatives from CFTV, the school district, TVEF, TVCS, and the SPARK Foundation. The school district provides facilities and is serving as a fiscal sponsor until the organization has received its 501(c)(3) status. Pugh said the committee is wrestling with questions both big and small right now. How many kdis will be in the program? How much staffing is needed? Will it be free or cost a nominal fee? Can children be bused from Tetonia and Victor to afterschool in Driggs? A lot of those answers will depend on funding.
The new nonprofit, which has yet to be named, will run both the afterschool program (set to start some time in October) and summer school. Since it has a fiscal sponsor, it is already set to receive donations or gifts. Contact Temple at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on philanthropy.
Temple wants the afterschool curriculum to involve other nonprofits that have educational programming. She added that she has studied Boys and Girls Club and other successful afterschool programs for inspiration and best practices. In some ways removing the 21st Century grant from the equation means afterschool can be more flexible in timing, programming, and funding.
“With federal funding comes a lot of requirements,” Temple said. “I think with philanthropic funding we’ll have more freedom to focus on student needs. Regardless of their backgrounds, we want to make sure all students are successful.”
While there are private afterschool programs in the valley, Pugh and Temple feel that public afterschool won’t be in competition with them.
“There’s space and need here big enough to have them both,” Pugh said. “The quality of the private options is great but many families can’t afford it.”
“Instead, kids are going to empty homes after school, and that problem is compounded if the parents work in Jackson,” Temple added.
Pugh said she has fielded a lot of thoughtful questions about whether the valley can support another nonprofit and why afterschool can’t come under the umbrella of another organization like TVEF or the school district.
TVEF, she explained, mostly serves as a fundraising arm for the district and, with an operating budget of a little over $100,000 per year and only one staff person, TVEF would require a major reconfiguration to take on a full afterschool and summer school program.
On the other hand, the school board’s main focus is “academic achievement from eight to three,” Pugh said. And while the current board is very supportive of afterschool, Pugh said the advisory committee wants it to be a long-term program that won’t be affected by elections or staff changes in the district.
She also doesn’t think that the new nonprofit will deprive other organizations of funding.
“Because these are such critical issues, we feel like donors will stand up and help us,” Pugh said. “It won’t be at the expense of another nonprofit.”