In 1994, concerned members of the community formed the Harrisonburg Education Foundation in order to enrich the ongoing public education program in the City of Harrisonburg, Virginia, and to provide grants to students of the Harrisonburg City Schools for post-high school education.
In its initial year of organization, the Foundation solicited funds from the general public to begin building an endowment to fulfill its mission, and raised approximately $1,000 toward this goal.
After getting off to a promising start, the Foundation struggled for the next several years to remain active in supporting the Harrisonburg City Schools. However, from 1995 to 2002 the Foundation was able to raise more than $18,000, and awarded a limited pool of $750 in educator grants to Harrisonburg City Schools teachers in 2000.
In mid-2002, the Foundation began to revitalize after receiving notice that it had been named in a local citizen’s will to receive a substantial bequest to set up a scholarship program. The Foundation received a second, smaller pool of funds in late 2002 from a local family to establish a scholarship in memory of a recent Harrisonburg City Schools graduate who had passed away.
These two gifts helped form the basis for the renewal that began to take shape in 2002. Under the leadership of Chairman Peter Yates, Director Cathy Glenn and the organization’s board of directors, the Harrisonburg Education Foundation began to redouble its efforts to provide continuing support for the Harrisonburg City Schools.
The Foundation has continued to pursue its mission to enrich the educational experience for all students in the Harrisonburg City Public Schools, and has conducted a number of activities since its revitalization in 2002.
The Foundation began awarding scholarships in 2003 to graduating Harrisonburg City Schools students and educator grants for projects designed to enhance the learning experiences of these students. These scholarships and awards have continued annually, and in December 2005, the Foundation awarded 20 grants to educators in the Harrisonburg City Schools for a total of more than $17,000. For the year 2014-15, a little over $20,000 was distributed in grant projects to improve the educational experience for students in and outside the classroom.
In October 2003, the Foundation conducted its inaugural golf tournament to raise funds in support of its activities. The Foundation’s Drive Fore Excellence golf tournament was organized and conducted on a volunteer basis by various members of the Foundation’s board and raised more than $40,000 for the Harrisonburg City Schools with generous support from local businesses and community members.
The Foundation also attempted to establish a supply depot as a central receiving area where local businesses could donate supplies for use in the Harrisonburg City Schools. Teachers were also able to request supplies for general use or particular projects, all to supplement the state and local governments’ commitment to the school division. With help from a local business owner who agreed to donate warehouse space, the Foundation began operating the supply depot in March 2006 until 2012.
The Harrisonburg Education Foundation’s board of directors continues to meet monthly to focus on strategic planning to increase community awareness of the Foundation, devise original fundraising ideas and review the priorities set for use of the Foundation’s funds.
2017 Board of directors
Matt Von Schuch