Wolf Creek Public Schools

Wolf Creek Public Schools

WCPS looks into viability of new fundraising arm

Wolf Creek Public Schools is considering the benefits of a fundraising arm within the division.

There are numerous ways to bring donations into an organization and local school trustees wanted to know more about one specific option.

The board of trustees for Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) listened intently during its meeting on March 16 to Bruce Buruma, the executive director of the Foundation for RDPSD (Red Deer Public School District), about how its foundation operates in hopes of learning if that direction would work for WCPS.

Buruma, who is also the corporate secretary and director of community relations for RDPSD, provided the trustees with a bit of background on how the foundation got started and how it has evolved since it was created in 1993.

“It was founded not to compete with schools, but to create philanthropy. We are in it together with the schools,” he explained, noting the foundation basically follows a similar path to the many hospital foundations that operate in the province.

The foundation also operates with its own board of directors, meaning it is arm’s-length from the school division, and has its own staff to administer the increasing number of resources it runs.

“The foundation has a significant impact on programs and advocates in the interest of education. Plus, it raises money for things that school divisions don’t normally pay for or should not be paying for. We play an additional role in the education of students in Red Deer,” Buruma said.

He added the foundation has changed over time, from raising money for grants and holding annual dinners to operating specific programs that further the school division’s three priorities literacy, equity and high school completion.

“What the goals and direction are and how successful the foundation is really depends on having a champion that loves the work plus having the required resources,” Buruma said.

“In the end, the job of the foundation is to raise money and create a relationship of ‘friend-raising,’ about opening ideas and creating recognition of public schools.”

Now while WCPS trustees were interested in knowing more about the foundation, Buruma posed a few questions back at them regarding the purpose of wanting to set up a foundation and how it may not completely align with how donors and school-specific fundraising societies raise and spend those funds.

“If I look at the rural area of Wolf Creek, there is a lot of richness and incredible pride, so would a foundation take away from the money for schools, those societies and service clubs? It’s important to know where the hearts of donors are and rural areas are fairly proud of their schools, so there is a need to respect that,” he said.

“Should you want a division-wide foundation, priorities need to be decided and maybe greater donations can be leveraged that might not have happened without the foundation.”

Following the presentation, board chair and Ponoka trustee Lorrie Jess thanked Buruma for making the trip.

“You provided us with lots of information and gave us a good look at all that we need to consider,” she said.