School employees, anonymous donor help BEF raise $10,000

By: Jeremy Selweski | Woodward Talk | Published October 3, 2012

BERKLEY — For teachers and other staff members in the Berkley School District, this was just too good of an offer to pass up.

During his opening day welcome address, Superintendent Dennis McDavid issued a challenge to all district employees: If they could collectively donate $5,000 to the Berkley Education Foundation (BEF), then an anonymous donor would match their funds with an additional $5,000 donation. Less than a month later, they reached their goal.

“I was really excited about this challenge, and I truly believed that our teachers would step up and raise this money,” said Sue McAlpine, director of the BEF. “They looked at this as an opportunity to double their money, so they jumped at the chance. They really care about our students and providing them with the best possible education.”

District employees contributed to the BEF through one-time donations and biweekly payroll deductions, turning their $5,000 into $10,000 in only a few weeks. School officials are remaining very tight-lipped about the identity of their big-hearted benefactor, however, honoring the donor’s request to remain anonymous.

The Berkley Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was formed by the district in 2000 for the purpose of maintaining and augmenting educational opportunities and programs for Berkley students. All the money that it raises is guaranteed to go directly back to the classrooms, from math, science and history to foreign language, art, music and everything in between.

The BEF’s main contribution to the district comes in the form of mini-grants that it awards each spring to staff members in order to enhance the learning experience for Berkley students, as well as student scholarships.

According to Jessica Stilger, communications supervisor for the district, “When teachers apply for mini-grants, they’re applying for things that can enhance learning in our classrooms that are above and beyond the district’s budget. It’s an opportunity for them to be creative with some new programs and projects.”

This year, one of the BEF’s major goals is to donate an Apple iPad to every classroom in the district for educational use. McAlpine said that this amounts to about 275 iPads altogether, noting that the purchase would not have been possible without the $10,000 contribution.

“That kind of put us over the top so that we could make this happen,” she said. “That extra money was exactly what we needed.”

Stilger is impressed by the BEF’s commitment to bringing new technological resources, such as iPads, to Berkley classrooms. “That’s a pretty significant donation,” she said, “and it’s all made possible because of contributions by district staff, alumni, parents and residents.”

As McAlpine pointed out, one of the main objectives of the BEF is to help Berkley schools improve in areas where they may be lacking.

“As a school district, we’re not really up to speed with modern technology,” she said, “so we need to take whatever steps we can to keep our kids learning with the best possible tools. This (iPad donation) is sort of a Band-Aid to a much bigger problem, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.”

For more information on the Berkley Education Foundation or to make a donation, visit or call (248) 837-8095.