In 2022, the state of Oregon allocated $150 million for summer learning programs offered by school districts.
In 2023, the Legislature allocated a somewhat smaller amount: zero.
School districts around Oregon scrambled to salvage what they could from their summer programs, which often offer students who have fallen behind a chance to get back on track or seek additional enrichment. Districts had to eliminate programs.
The Corvallis School District had an ace in the hole, Superintendent Ryan Noss said: For years, the Corvallis Public Schools Foundation has supported the district’s summertime programs. Noss and other district leaders asked if the foundation could step up to help fill the unexpected funding shortfall – and to preserve what Noss called “the vital work of summer programs.”
The foundation’s leadership, board, and donors had an answer: Yes.
Foundation money, combined with special education funds and resources from the district’s high school success program, allowed 500 students in Corvallis to participate in summer 2023 programs, even as other districts across the state had to scuttle or dramatically downsize theirs.
In Corvallis, the programs included COVID recovery services for students on special education plans, allowing them to keep pace with peers, in addition to high school credit-recovery programs that allowed 100 students to earn 74 credits that will help keep them on track for graduation.
The foundation’s support also allowed the district to offer several additional specialized offerings during the summer:
- Incoming sixth- and ninth-grade students were able to attend a camp intended to accelerate learning in math.
- High school students at College Hill participated in a camp promoting outdoor learning and adventure.
- Another camp supported the cultural learning and identities of middle school Latinx students.
- Students in the district’s high school Life Skills and WINGS transition programs were able to take advantage of summer learning opportunities.
The partnership between the foundation and the district is “key to the summer programming work,” Noss said. “We thank the foundation leadership, their board, and loyal donors for their funds that allow us to continue to help kids across our community.”
One of the longtime donors to the foundation is Gerding Builders. Monte Smith, the CEO of Gerding Builders, said donating to the foundation “makes perfect sense” – especially considering Gerding’s deep ties to the community.
The summertime programs the foundation helps fund are particularly important, said Smith, who was impressed with what he saw when he toured them a few years ago. Seeing those programs firsthand – “and to see the good they’re doing,” makes it an easy call to donate to the foundation, he said.
Smith said Gerding Builders particularly appreciates the foundation’s ability to pivot quickly to help the school district cope with unexpected developments – such as a sudden funding shortfall from the state.
“Their ability to fill that need, whatever that may be, is a huge thing for us.”
Thank you to our sponsors who helped to make these programs possible:
Starker Forrests Inc., Benton Community Foundation, Pacific Power, Ollerenshaw Wealth Management, Samaritan Health Services, Citizens Bank, Gerding Builders, Jacobs, Benton County Schools Credit Union, Valley Eye Care, and The Dragoo Financial Group.