GROVE CITY – A new charitable organization to help support Grove City Area School District students has been established.
The Grove City Education Foundation aims to enhance student academic, enrichment and career path opportunities.
“We’re trying to support the town, the student and the school system,” said Dr. Levato Myford.
The Grove City woman, who most recently worked as director of pupil services at Ambridge Area School District, has taken the lead on getting the foundation up and running.
She’s held various positions in education, including working with educational foundations – something she felt the district needed.
The mom of three has been inspired by her children and the district itself.
With at-home learning in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Myford has seen firsthand how hard the teachers are working for and with their students.
Social distancing has meant that Myford and her family are spending more time at home, which has allowed to put more focus on the foundation, which is partnering with the district and community to support quality educational and vocational experiences, according to the vision statement.
Educational foundations provide extra support to school districts to help maintain an outstanding school system.
“They can’t do it all on their own,” she said.
The foundation has been officially registered as a nonprofit – separate from the district – and the funds are managed by the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio.
It is run by volunteers and board members who can apply for funding and grants for the district.
Myford foresees the foundation using funds to help build a career exploration network in the community, like internships or job shadowing.
It’s an opportunity to support but not supplant academic and career focused endeavors, and it wouldn’t compete with school booster groups or parent-teacher organizations.
“We don’t have the same goals,” Myford said.
And because of pandemic-related restrictions, high school seniors may be facing some obstacles in preparing for life after graduation, like meeting with a guidance counselor to discuss options.
The foundation can help the district assist those students.
“We’re trying to make something positive out of this time we’ve been given,” Myford said.
Grove City school board members in October approved an agreement with the foundation; that means they have agreed to accept funds from the foundation.
The foundation will be funded by donations – Myford hopes to schedule some fundraisers once pandemic restrictions are lifted – and Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit.
A nonprofit foundation has to apply for tax credit funds on behalf of a school district. The tax credit program is a way for businesses to keep their state tax payments local; they can receive tax credits for contributions to nonprofits, Myford said.
For example, Grove City Christian Academy, George Junior Republic and the early education center at Grove City College have received funds through the tax credit program.
Educational foundations can use that money for things like teacher grants, technology, AP exam costs, arts, music, science enrichment and more.
The Grove City Education Foundation’s first tax credit proposal has been approved by the state.
It will help pay tuition for GCHS students who are part the district’s dual enrollment program with Grove City College, so the foundation is looking to local businesses for financial support through the tax credit program.
“They’re supporting the high school, the college and the kids,” she said of participating businesses.
The foundation has secured donated office space across from the high school at Brooker Kidney Care, and eight community members have signed on as board members.
They are: Molly Mercer, who served as chief financial officer at Slippery Rock University and is moving on to the same position at Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education; Dr. Jodi Sindlinger, an SRU professor; Heather Arnold, a local educator; Dr. Christi Crute, a GCC professor and executive director of graduate and online programs; Tammi Martin, Hillview Elementary School principal; Julie Swartfager, who works for the office of U.S. Rep Mike Kelly; school board member Ray Abplanalp; and Debbie McEwen, a retired Grove City teacher.
The foundation is looking for a few more board members and supporters, who must live in the Grove City area and believe in the organization’s mission and commitment to investing in local students.
Myford is also preparing to build a website for the foundation.
She thanked board members, Brooker Kidney Care, the district, fellow school parent Heather Greer, and Stephanie Bucci, who designed the foundation’s logo.
For more information about the Grove City Education Foundation, call 724-923-3022 or email email@example.com