Donor Press

Donations Now Being Accepted for Newly Created Brattleboro School Endowment

December 2, 2009

The schools in Brattleboro will soon benefit from a new endowment–which, even before it was officially announced, has gained its first major bequest, say its founders and local Academy School parents, Ellen Capy and Jill Stahl Tyler.

“This whole project originated with the idea that the continual fund raising that we saw at Academy School was very hard on the students, the parents–and those people the students kept asking to buy things,” says Stahl Tyler.  “We felt that there had to be a better way.”

Both Capy and Stahl Tyler had seen endowments in other organizations work to provide steady income through their investments.  “The amounts we were looking for were not terribly excessive–but very hard to raise through repeated bake sales,” she said. “There had to be a better way.”

As the two friends worked on creating the endowment, they found that it became much more than just a way to control fundraising: it became a way to give back to the community. “It has far-reaching implications to all the kids in the area,” notes Capy, “and we have felt such enthusiasm and support from all we’ve spoken with.”

“Many people have commented that they really like the idea of an endowment for public schools because it would affect everyone in the community–through the children, whom they feel to be fundamental to the future,” says Stahl Tyler.  

The most exciting reaction was a promised bequest in the will of a local woman for $50,000.  “This news came to us as we had just started the process,”  reports Capy.  “It proved to us our idea had a lot of merit.  We are grateful for this first round of support.”  

In researching the endowment options, and in talking with the Brattleboro Elementary School Board, Capy and Stahl Tyler heard repeatedly that Brattleboro residents did not know how to give to the schools when they wanted to.  “We heard from many people that they loved this idea,” commented Stahl Tyler. “Almost all the private schools have endowments–the public schools should have a way to receive gifts from their communities, too, people said.

“We also found that most scholarships and gifts from the community go to the high school, mostly in the form of scholarships–which, given college prices, makes perfect sense.  At the same time, there is still a need for extra funding in the grade school level for artists-in-residence, for special projects in individual class rooms, for the six-week winter sports programs.  Being able to tap into an endowment for those needs at lower grades is important, too.”  

Capy in particular has been an ardent supporter–and one of the chief fund raisers–for the winter sports program at Academy for several years.  “So many older folks here in town tell me how important this opportunity was to them.  They say that they would never have learned to ski without it, that the costs involved were just out of reach for their family.  They credit the grade-school level instruction with sparking a life-long interest in a winter sport that they feel is central to their Vermont lifestyle,” Capy says. “Continuing to give children this chance means a lot to them.”

The endowment is started by two Academy School parents–but is established for all Brattleboro schools.  The community has also supported the effort already.  The recently elected board includes Green Street parent Jonathan Secrest, who has also provided legal support and advice throughout the process.  Jay Pricer represents the third elementary school of Oak Grove, and has created a website at www.brattleboroschoolendowment.org.  

The Brattleboro Elementary School Board has given their full endorsement, and has appointed school board member Mark Truhan to serve as a member of the Brattleboro School Endowment board.  Prentiss Smith has agreed to provide the financial management to guide the funds’ investments.  Barb Ackeman of Iris Lines has agreed to provide the website hosting.  

“This endowment is specifically created with two main goals in mind,” comments Capy. “First, we hope that–-eventually–the endowment will allow for time spent on fund raising to decrease in all the schools.  Second, the endowment is specifically designed to assist elementary schools first, with a portion of the funds designated for the “winter sports” program.”

While Capy and Stahl Tyler have been working on all the legalities and necessary approvals to start the endowment for over a year, they are very happy to note that donations can now be received.  All donations are tax deductible upon the organization’s recognition as a 501(c)3 nonprofit. The mailing address is Brattleboro School Endowment, Inc; PO Box 2534; Brattleboro, VT 05303.  The website address is www.brattleboroschoolendowment.org      
    
“We are so excited to be able to announce the creation of this endowment,” says Stahl Tyler.  “We really feel that this is an opportunity for many people to join together to make a positive impact in so many people’s lives.”