Opinion

Promise Campaign funds arts, sciences and early learning in Bellingham schools

As the 2014-2015 school year comes to a close, we would like to thank the many individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations in our community who donated over $181,000 to the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation.

This spring we launched our first community-wide annual fund-raising drive, the Promise Campaign. You may have seen our message, “Your Gift. Our Kids. Our Future” on lawn signs and banners around Bellingham. We believe that providing a high-quality education for children is one of the most important investments that our community can make. Your donation to the foundation, through our annual campaign or other events, will help leave a legacy of learning for this and future generations.

Thanks to the generous support of community members to the Promise Campaign, we were able to fund new opportunities in support of the Bellingham Promise, our district’s strategic plan. We focused on funding four broad areas: visual and performing arts; science, technology, engineering and math education; early childhood education; and one schoolhouse equity.

Gifts supporting music and the arts helped fund a 5th-grade after-school strings program at all 14 elementary schools, annual music teacher grants and new instrument purchases at our high schools.

Donations advancing science, technology, engineering and math education supported elementary summer camps, a middle school Creators and Innovators Technology Club for girls, and the first robotics club at the high school level.

Expanding early childhood education was another area of focus. For the second year the foundation supported Promise K, which gives mid-year entrance to kindergarten to children who haven’t been able to attend private preschool or Head Start, giving them a jump start on kindergarten for the following year. We also helped fund a second grads program to serve pregnant and parenting teens.

We support the “one schoolhouse” approach to increase equity across the district and advance opportunities for all students. To that end, the foundation provided salary support for a dedicated district grant-writer who secured more than $1 million of new grant money; we facilitated funding for the Salish Sea experience, an environmental science field trip for 4th graders at 10 participating elementary schools; and we started a student support fund to provide resources for individual students who encounter financial barriers to educational opportunities.

This spring, a new music initiative was brought forward by music educators from Bellingham Public Schools, parents, alumni and friends in the music community. Please join us for “Music Moves Me...” a musical instrument drive and fundraiser for the Ray Downey Band Fund from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 6, at Boundary Bay Brewery. This is a family friendly event in the outdoor venue at Boundary Bay, 1107 Railroad Ave. Suggested donation is $5 with kids 13 and under free.

Members of the community are asked to donate a musical instrument that is no longer being used, so that it can be played by a young, eager student in our Bellingham Public Schools. Free admission for those who donate an instrument.

All funds collected during the event will support additional instructors for 6th-grade band classes during the first 8- to 10-weeks of the school year, fostering student progress on their new instruments. This fund honors longtime Bellingham-based musician Ray Downey.

Local bands Black Beast Revival, The Naughty Blokes and Sweet Invicta will provide entertainment. High school and middle schools students will play during breaks and intermissions. Scott Less from 92.9 KISM will emcee the event.

Sponsors include Boundary Bay Brewery, 92.9 KISM, Sparrow Salon, WECU, RDS Disposal and Guardian Security.

For more information about this event or to make a gift to the foundation, please visit our website at bellinghamschoolsfoundation.org or call 360-676-6479.

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