First-time donors embrace Corvallis Public Schools Foundation

By Mike McInally

This is the fourth story in a five-part series on how donations to the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation are making a difference in students’ lives and how the Foundation has pivoted to address pandemic-related needs.

Support from donors in 2020 helped the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation find innovative solutions to unprecedented challenges – and much of that backing came from individuals and households.

Many of those donors, more than 200 of them, were giving to the foundation for the first time.

Terese Jones, shown here with her fourth-grade son, is a first-time donor to the foundation.

Those new donors included Terese Jones, a member of the Corvallis School Board and mother to a Garfield School fourth-grade student.

Jones said she knew about the foundation before joining the school board and that its work has a natural connection with her academic research, some of which focuses on how social policies can bridge gaps in inequities. But her time on the school board has deepened her appreciation for the foundation, she said.

Organizations like the foundation, Jones said, work to “bridge the gap in places where the system cannot meet the needs of constituents” – and she pointed, in particular, to how the foundation has helped to fund programs aimed at low-income or homeless students.

In an era when school budgets often are stretched tight, Jones said organizations like the foundation can help address needs that otherwise might go unmet. In addition, she said, the foundation’s ability to adapt quickly (“They have a much better turning radius” is how she put it) allows it to respond to emerging issues – such as a coronavirus pandemic that forces schools to adopt distance learning.

But she added that school foundations are valuable not just in helping school react to urgent developments, but in a deeper way as well: “They’ve developed into really powerful tools for change.”

“Every school district needs to have a strong foundation.”

And having a strong foundation that works for schools pays dividends for the entire community, Jones said.

“Our quality of life in the community will hinge on the ability of students today to become good citizens tomorrow,” she said. “The schools foundation is one of those safety nets that we have in our community. It’s a gem.”

Mike McInally is a free-lance writer who lives and works in Corvallis, Oregon.