Education foundation appeals for funding

In a first, District 21’s education foundation has sent out a fundraising appeal letter to all households in the school district, hoping to drum up not only donations, but a database of district supporters.

The letter, from the North Wasco County Education Foundation, was sent Wednesday to all 11,000 homes in the district, which includes The Dalles and Mosier, said District Superintendent Candy Armstrong.

The education foundation, formed in 2008, is an umbrella non-profit organization that hosts a number of entities, the largest of which is The Dalles High School Scholarship Foundation. Others are the sister cities association, the Friends of D21 Music, the Alumni Association, The Dalles High School Booster Club and the school district’s archive museum.

The foundation is meant to “ensure that the students of North Wasco have access to a well-rounded education that includes academic, extra-curricular, community service and post-secondary opportunities,” according to a statement in the appeal letter.

The appeal letter is a way to raise the profile of the education foundation, Armstrong said. The mailer includes not only a one-page fundraising letter, but also a brochure listing all the member entities of the foundation.

The letter seeks donations that can go to any, or all, of four categories: academic; scholarships; extra-curricular activities like music/art or sports; and community partnerships such as the sister city organization and school museum.

Responses to appeal letters are generally quite low, especially ones known as “cold” appeals that are sent out to a wide audience, according to expertfundraiser.com.

Armstrong said the education foundation was assisted by Paul Lindberg, a professional grantwriter and fundraiser who was once paid staff for the education foundation in Hood River schools. “We’re very grateful to him for taking the time to help us,” she said.

Lindberg told the district that half of all responses they will receive will be made within the first two weeks. The other half will come in more slowly.

Armstrong said they don’t know what to expect as far as a return. “With it being the first time, you just never know. It allows you to know who is interested in knowing more” about helping the district.

“If we can gain some financial support, that’s fantastic,” she said. “The first time out, they say don’t have big expectations.”

The mailings weren’t cheap, she said. It cost about $2,500 to prepare, $4,000 to fold and stuff, and $2,500 for postage, for a total of $9,000, which was paid for out of education foundation funds. Each mailer includes a self-addressed stamped envelope for people to mail in checks, but the district will only pay for postage on those letters that are mailed back.

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