Geneseo Education Foundation celebrates 25 years

Claudia Loucks
Geneseo Education Foundation president Todd Sieben, front left, is congratulated by Geneseo Mayor Kathy Carroll-Duda on the organization’s 25th anniversary. Also pictured near the foundation’s park monument to donors are, from left: Cathy Lotz (GEF board member), Barb Fehlman (GEF director), John Puentes (school board member), Dr. Chris Kuster (GEF board member), Doug Ford (school board member), and Sharon Neumann (GEF board member). Not pictured are GEF board members: Bill Dale, Cheryl Culbertson, Cheryl Radicic, James Nash, Leslie Raya, Bill Menendez, Roger Eickman and Barry Snodgrass.

Geneseo Mayor Kathy Carroll-Duda recently issued a proclamation to recognize the Geneseo Education Foundation (GEF) which is celebrating 25 years of supporting students in the Geneseo School District.

GEF, formerly the Geneseo Endowment for Excellence in Education, was launched in 1991 in an effort to fund “extras” for students in the Geneseo School District.

The Foundation has provided more than $2 million in financial assistance to a variety of projects and programs.

According to Barb Fehlman, Geneseo Education Foundation director, the foundation has funded “hundreds of projects for the last 25 years.”

The group kicked off the 25th anniversary year with a meeting that combined current members with many members of the original steering committee responsible for the Foundation’s beginning.

“Our appreciation begins with Bernard Francque and Warren Hadley, former school board members, who, at a school board convention in 1987, in Chicago, attended a presentation on school endowments,” Fehlman said. “They brought the idea back to the Geneseo School Board and a steering committee was selected and the process began.”

The kick-off for the school endowment, Geneseo Endowment for Excellence in Education or GEEE, was held in 1990 and the late Geneseo attorney, Mabel Brown, was selected spokesperson.

Comments made by Brown were included in a brochure distributed at the kickoff breakfast of GEEE 25 years ago, when her remarks included, “I am extremely proud and honored to serve as chairperson of the GEEE fund raising campaign. GEEE’s efforts to assure the excellence of the school system are a worthwhile endeavor that I strongly believe in and fully support.”

The Geneseo Education Foundation provides programs and educational opportunities that exceed or extend present offerings, Fehlman said, and added, “The foundation’s funds are used to complement, enrich, and enhance the educational opportunities and experiences for students in the Geneseo District beyond tax support.”

Those opportunities come from teachers writing grants for their projects.

Fehlman said the GEF board of directors reviews the grant requests and determines which grants to fund, based on a number of criteria, including:

• Total amount of funds available for distribution

• Number of students affected by projects

• Distribution of funds to all grade levels

• Projects that produce materials and programs that will benefit future students

• Innovative methods and techniques

Some of the projects and programs funded include technology, musical instruments and programs, visiting authors, educational materials, community cultural events, landscaping projects that enhance the appearance and provide learning experiences, teacher training, extra-curricular activities, robotics, scholastic bowl and field trips.

“GEF was formed to provide a means for all citizens to contribute to the continuation and expansion of quality education,” Fehlman said. “The names of contributors donating $5,000 or more are inscribed on the GEF Monument in Geneseo City Park.”

Names of donors contributing that amount or more will be added to the monument.

“The endowment continues to grow through memorials, life insurance policies and donations in kind,” Fehlman said. “As part of the 25-year celebration, friends of the community will be encouraged to add their name to the list of guarantor contributors on the monument in Geneseo City Park.”

Anyone interested in

more information about

donating to the GEF, is asked to contact Fehlman at 944-3314.