Brevard Schools Foundation
In 1984, the Florida Legislature passed a law allowing school districts to create local education foundations to raise private funds for programs to support students, teachers and public schools in their respective districts. Brevard Public Schools Superintendent Lloyd Soughers organized Brevard Schools Foundation in 1987, as a direct support organization designed to receive and disburse funds and property for school support. Less than five months after organizing, the group had already raised $30,000 and by the end of the year had raised $100,000. In its first funding year, the Foundation awarded $11,151 in classroom grants and $43,500 in student scholarships. The Foundation’s budget this year is $2.6 million. Since the Foundation began, it has provided more than $40 million in benefit to Brevard Public Schools.
Brevard Schools Foundation, a non-profit corporation with federal tax exempt status, is designed to match community resources with the needs of the schools. The Foundation is led by a 22 member volunteer board of directors consisting of business and community leaders who are appointed by the School Board, a staff of eight full-time and four part-time employees, and many volunteers. Staffing consisted entirely of school district personnel until 2010 when the Foundation Board hired its first full-time executive director. Its original focus was on creative classroom projects, student scholarships, employee recognition and public relations. Efforts continue to target these areas, with an eye on increasing business and community interest, involvement and investment in Brevard Public Schools as a strategy for increasing student achievement.
A Teacher of the Year recognition luncheon was the first major activity funded by the Foundation in 1988 and five years later was the program that launched Brevard County teacher, Tracey Bailey into the national spotlight as the 1993-94 National Teacher of the Year. In one of the Foundation’s first meetings, a request was made by the Exceptional Student Education department to use the Foundation as a fiscal agent for its Very Special Arts Festival project. Since then, the Foundation now manages more than 300 such fund accounts for school support projects and raises funds for dozens of others, such as Odyssey of the Mind, Future Problem Solving and Robotics. In addition, the Foundation organizes an annual Back to School Supply Giveaway Event to get free school supplies to students who need it most.
In 1996, the Foundation entered into its first agreement with Take Stock in Children, a drop-out prevention, mentoring and scholarship program for low-income students. Since then, 679 students have entered the program and 412 have graduated from high school. This program received a big boost in 2000, when the school district entered into an exclusive beverage contract with Pepsi that over ten years provided one million dollars in donations to include in the Foundation’s scholarship programs.
To leverage the resources of the nearby Kennedy Space Center, Brevard County Public Schools in 2003 started and Brevard Schools Foundation funded a space curriculum and study experience for every sixth grade student annually. The program continues today and is a centerpiece of the district’s strong emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
With low-income students approaching 50% of the total student population, the Foundation in spring 2014 opened a school supply free store – the Supply Zone for Teachers – in space donated by the School Board at Clearlake Education Center. The Zone served 18 schools and provided more than $250,000 in free supplies during its first year of operation. Since opening the store, the Foundation received The Health First Supernova Award, presented by 2-1-1 Brevard, for “magnifying impact.” In 2015, the Zone was accepted as Junior Affiliate of the Kids in Need Foundation.
FLORIDA TODAY named Brevard Schools Foundation “Organization of the Year” in 2008. The Foundation received its first national ranking in 2012 and is currently ranked 3rd in the nation of the 200 largest school districts for supporting public education. Brevard Public Schools is the 51st largest school district in the nation.