The idea for a foundation was born when district administrators asked a twelve member panel to find a way to deal with donations made to the school district. In July 1997, the Director of Communications and Arts for the Olympia School District (OSD) brought together a group of civic leaders and concerned citizens to do a feasibility study on developing an education foundation for the OSD.

After a year of planning, the Olympia School District Education Foundation (OSDEF) was formed. A Board of Directors was put together and the board wrote a Mission Statement, filed non-profit status, and wrote Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation with the State of Washington.

An initial fundraising dinner provided nine hundred dollars for the Foundation’s operating budget in its first year.

The initial concern of the OSDEF was to use donations to fund teacher grants and summer school foreign language programs. Teachers were encouraged to apply for grants for special classroom projects, before and after school projects and tutoring, and for equipment and classroom materials. In the years since its inception, the scope of the foundation has increased so that not only are teacher grants budgeted for, but the Principal’s Emergency Checkbook Fund has been created to remove common barriers for low-income students, the seed money to get the STEM Pals Robotics program implemented in Olympia schools was provided, the Math and Science Learning Initiative was funded and the Cispus Outdoor Education program is provided twenty five thousand dollars so all fifth grade students can attend. The OSDEF continues to look at new programs, initiatives and fundraising opportunities.

The Board of Trustees’ focus is on raising funds for these programs, on developing our current and future goals, and how best to support the OSD. The funds are raised through special events put on by the Board, private donations, and a few grants from businesses and other foundations. No government funding is given to the OSDEF, nor are any funds from the school district. The board members are all volunteers and there is one part-time office administrator. The Board has several sub committees who address our focuses and each present at the monthly board meetings.

From the humble beginnings of a budget of nine hundred dollars, the Foundation has awarded over one and a half million dollars since 1998.