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Farmington, Farmington Hills

January 28, 2013

New foundation is all about education

FFHEF/Foundation seeks donors

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Power Upper Elementary teacher Dave Hebert demonstrates iPad integration with classroom learning. The Farmington/ Farmington Hills Education Foundation will help support different programs within Farmington Public Schools.

FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS  — Knowing the costs associated with extracurricular activities for students, parent Dan Reihl saw the need to go outside the district to help fund academic programs in Farmington Public Schools.

With school budgets so tight because of Michigan’s economic downturn, programs within the district might not be receiving the funding they need. So Reihl joined forces with others to form the Farmington/Farmington Hills Education Foundation, and he serves as the board’s vice chair.

Established in July 2012, the nonprofit organization will provide grant money to district teachers for educational projects that are not eligible for general-fund monies.

“We’re the charity arm of the school,” Foundation Executive Director Chris Greig said. “We want to raise additional funds for innovative and special programs to support student success.”

The Foundation — which includes a board of approximately 21 community members — has targeted four areas: technology, scholastic achievement, the arts and extracurricular enrichment.

“Engineering and math programs: that could be an area we can help with,” Greig said. “Any kind of special academic program or if anyone comes up with any new and innovative (program), we can help and anything we can do to promote the arts.”

The group currently seeks participants to become charter donors to the Farmington/Farmington Hills Education Foundation. Individuals are sought to make a $250 or more tax-deductible donation to help the foundation achieve its goal of providing grant money to educators. 

“They’re donating seed money to get it going,” Greig said. “We’re asking anybody that supports education to support the foundation.”

“We’re trying to go out and find people that want to invest in these learning opportunities,” Reihl said. “Without the money, you can’t do anything. We’re finding people that want to contribute.”

At press time, $67,000 had been raised. The goal is to raise $100,000.

Those seeking grants must fill out a grant application. Teachers were expected to begin sending submissions this month. Greig said the first series of grant money will be doled out by the middle of March.

The foundation will offer three types of grants: mini-grants of up to $500, collaborative grants up of to $1,500 and major project grants of up to $5,000. Grant applications will be reviewed and awarded twice a year.

Teachers are encouraged to apply, as are parent-teacher organizations. The number of grants awarded will depend on the number of applications received, district initiatives and available funds.

Recipients must follow specific rules upon receiving a grant. Grant money may be used only for the reason intended. The project or program must be implemented during the school year in which the grant was awarded. Projects must directly involve students. Grant money can be used to reimburse experts who work with pupils, but not to pay FPS staff members. 

The foundation’s board works on a volunteer basis, and 100 percent of Charter Donor Campaign proceeds are used to fund the grants.

Reihl’s oldest son, Cooper, is a member of the district’s robotics team at Farmington High School. While Reihl,  “a tech guy” with an engineering background, is grateful for his son’s interest, the extracurricular activity is “very expensive.” He said it costs $5,000 to even be on the team, and another $10,000 to $15,000 to build a robot. His other son, Carter, 14, is a freshman at Farmington High School.

Greig’s three children have gone through the FPS system. Two have graduated and are students at the University of Michigan, and her third  — a son — is a sophomore at Farmington High School.

To become a Charter Donor contact Chris Greig at director@ffhedfoundation.org or call (810) 444-7406.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.