The Lawrence Schools Foundation, which seeks private donations to fund special school projects, is nowhere near the size of the Kansas University Endowment Association, which has a permanent asset base in the millions.
Then again, the KU Endowment Association has had a century to grow, and the Lawrence Schools Foundation was formed in 1985.
With assets totaling about $70,800, the foundation is just getting off the ground, but foundation officials hope the organization will grow and play a bigger role in enhancing education in the Lawrence school district.
"We don't have a specific dollar goal in mind, but over time it could become an organization that is significantly endowed," Foundation President Peter Curran said. "When people think about contributing to the community, we would like them to consider our organization."
A major fund-raising event for the foundation last year was the Foundation Follies, an evening of entertainment provided by district teachers, administrators and other personnel.
The second annual Foundation Follies will be at 7 p.m. March 24 at Liberty Hall, 642 Mass.
SCHOOL board member John Tacha, who also is one of the foundation's 15 trustees, said, "As our population grows older and we have fewer people with children of school age or younger . . . things like the foundation are going to be what give us the extras."
The foundation already has established several funds and awards to assist Lawrence schools, including:
The Carl Knox Staff Development Fund, which provides annual grants to district personnel for special teaching projects. Last year, the fund provided a $500 grant to assist in the development of a volunteer program at Kennedy and New York schools.
The Bill and Gunnar Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides college financial assistance to an average student who is interested in the disciplines of English, art or music.
The Allen Press Distinguished Teacher Award, which goes to a Lawrence High School teacher who LHS students feel has been particularly effective in the classroom. The annual award is for $1,000.
LAST YEAR, Deerfield School teacher Tom Christie was the only classroom teacher selected to participate in the Leadership Kansas program, and the foundation provided him a $500 grant to help cover related expenses.
Also, LHS English teacher Art Sloan was awarded $500 to help him attend a National Endowment for the Humanities seminar.
Tacha said those awards "might seem like small victories, but they mean a lot to people who are in the trenches."
District teachers, administrators and other personnel are planning to raise money for future projects through the upcoming Follies.
"People don't realize the talent we have on our staff," Tacha said. "It's outstanding. It's really an evening of top-notch entertainment."
Returning this year will be Randy and the Detentions, which is headed by South Junior High School Principal Randy Weseman.
"They will perform vintage rock 'n' roll, probably a medley of some of the great rock 'n' roll songs of the last 25 years," Weseman said of the group.
Lawrence School Supt. Dan Neuenswander is expected to join three other school employees in a gospel number, and music instructor Jack Brookshire has organized a Dixieland Band.