Opinion

Whatcom View: Foundation helps make schools as exceptional as Bellingham

Suddenly this amazing summer of endless sunshine and its long, warm days are drawing to a close, and so begins another school year for the 11,000 children who attend Bellingham Public Schools.

Last year, for the first time ever, the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation disbursed more than $100,000 of grant money throughout the school year to support great teaching and learning directly within our local schools. This money means dozens of new instruments will be in the hands of our community’s budding musicians, that state-of-the-art robotics kits are available for curious scientific innovators and resources are available to support healthier food options at student lunchtimes.

But far beyond just providing crucial resources to our students and classrooms, the schools foundation also plays a vital role helping enable the school district to make strategic new staff hires to expand capacity and better serve our students, families and community. This important capacity building is creating high impact outcomes for our schools. For the past two years, we have co-funded the Bellingham School District’s part-time grant writer, a position created to obtain additional funds to further the work of The Bellingham Promise, our district’s strategic plan. The grant writer position means that today, our schools have significant additional resources to support enrichment opportunities for children and to help bridge equity gaps. Most notably, last year our district was awarded a $1.3 million grant to develop a 21st century learning center at Shuksan Middle School, growing on the great work already happening there. This year, the schools foundation will provide funds to help support the addition of a new volunteer coordinator position. The volunteer coordinator will strive to align community members’ passions and skillsets with school needs while working to increase the safety, efficiency and equity of this important resource for our schools.

Bellingham routinely finds itself at the top of many “best places” and “top 10” lists as one of this nation’s best places to live and to retire, to start a small business and to recreate. We know this to be true. As we look to this coming school year, the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation is passionate about helping to realize the vision of The Bellingham Promise. We endeavor to broaden our impact throughout the school community and continue to foster a strong culture of local educational philanthropy, helping to make our schools as exceptional as this great place we call home.

A great education, however, requires more resources than a basic one. While the state budget for the coming year has allocated additional funds to meet educational requirements across the state, there are still considerable needs to address and years of shortfalls to amend. Regardless of how education is prioritized in Olympia, The Bellingham Promise pledges that we, as a community, make a collective commitment to Bellingham’s children: That we will empower every child to discover and develop a passion, contribute to the community and achieve a fulfilling and productive life. Funds donated to the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation from generous donors help to deliver on this promise for students in every building, district-wide. In this way, ongoing community support of the schools foundation translates to flourishing local schools. Flourishing schools in turn foster a vibrant local economy and an even more desirable place to call home. A hometown where truly amazing things are possible – especially for our children.

We invite everyone drawn to learning more about our efforts and interested in making a gift to attend our upcoming 4th annual Hungry Minds Breakfast. This year’s fundraising breakfast will take place Tuesday, Oct. 27 at the Whatcom Middle School Auditorium. You can RSVP or learn more by visting the foundation website at bellinghamschools.org or by calling our office at 360-676-6470.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kim Lund is the executive director of the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation. You can learn more and make a gift online at bellinghamschools.org.

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