GREAT FALLS — For more than 10 years, the Great Falls Public Schools Foundation has been raising money to help students, educators, and buildings within the district.
For the first time in its history, the foundation is under new leadership. Even with new direction, the organization won’t skip a beat.
Updates to the Davidson Family Auditorium and the CTE Center Supported by the Oakland Family at Great Falls High School are just two examples of the mission of the Great Falls Public Schools Foundation.
The foundation was established in 2010 and the board, now with 23 community members, was seated in 2011. It started with nothing and today manages more than $9 million dollars in assets.
In addition to building enhancements, the organization supports scholarships for high school seniors and continuing education for teachers, obtains grants for educational improvement, and recognizes students and teachers through the excellence in education program.
Dave Crum has overseen the foundation from the beginning. As he approaches retirement, he has been working closely with his successor, Stephanie Schnider, and is confident of a smooth transition.
“She has the most important skills which are communication and trust,” said Crum. “If you start with those, you can learn fundraising and management.”
Schnider doesn’t envision making major changes to a system she says is working. “I think one thing that’s been done very well is a clear focus on the four areas that we support: scholarships, grants, building enhancements, and student and teacher recognition,” said Schnider.
Even during a pandemic, Schnider is amazed how the community supported education.
“This community has shown that even during difficult times, they’re ready to step up and bridge whatever gaps might exist,” said Schnider.
That was evident during the foundation’s signature fundraising event. Their most recent truck raffle brought in the second highest sales total ever.
“A portion of those truck raffle tickets go towards any organization that is selling those tickets,” said Schnider. “So that’s cycled right back into the school programs that are working on promoting and selling those tickets.”
Schnider is no stranger to the community - she is a graduate of Great Falls High School and spent time as director of the Great Falls chapter of Habitat For Humanity, and also worked for the University of Providence.
Crum’s final day with the foundation is June 30th. In his retirement, he plans to enjoy even more of Montana's great outdoors.
In addition to Schnider, the Foundation staff also includes a part-time public relations specialist, and a high school intern. The foundation has an opening for a full-time program service coordinator. Click here to visit the website.