In summer 2002, a group of parents and community members, concerned about state cuts in funding for our school district, began meeting to consider forming an organization to raise money to support Methow Valley’s public school students. Jana Mohr Lone had moved to the valley the previous year from Vashon Island and had been impressed with an organization there, Partners in Education, which raised funds through an annual fall campaign and then funded public school programs and materials through grant proposals submitted by teachers and other community members.
By early 2003, a founding board of directors was formed, and bylaws and other legal materials created for Public School Funding Alliance (PSFA). In March 2003, PSFA was certified as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The new organization was based on the belief that the community plays a vital role in ensuring high-quality education for children, even in a small, rural school district.
Liberty Bell High School students have been involved in PSFA from the beginning. Students Patrick Orme and Kimberly Williams created the PSFA logo in 2003. PSFA’s bylaws require a minimum of two high school student board members; PSFA’s founding board had six students, and there have always been at least three students on the board since.
PSFA Founding Board 2003-2004
The first PSFA brochure, describing the organization’s mission and goals, was sent to all Methow box-holders in August 2003, and that fall board members and community volunteers called almost every name in the Methow Valley phone book to enlist support for the new organization. The goal was to raise $10,000, and in that first year the community donated just under $30,000.
Teachers and others submitted funding applications in the fall of that first year, and 25 were funded, including literacy materials for the primary school, books for high school classrooms, math and science programs for elementary students, Suzuki violin classes and music equipment for the school band program, field trips, the high school tutoring program, artist-in-residence programs, Classroom in Bloom schoolyard garden, and the high school oil painting program.
Since then, community members have donated $45,000 climbing to $106,000 each year to PSFA, totaling nearly a million dollars of funding in 15 years. Clearly, community members understand the value of quality education and the need to provide additional financial support to our public schools. The fantastic support of the community has allowed us to fund over 154 programs for students since 2003, including (to mention a few) a high school career college advisor, elementary school after-school enrichment programs, a counselor position at the elementary school, Advanced Placement classes at the high school, International Baccalaureate training for all teachers, elementary school violin and Spanish classes, Science Fair, Young Authors Conference, field trips, school tutors, and many other programs, as well as the purchase of thousands of new books for students of all grade levels.