In its third year of existence, the Bayfield Education Foundation wants to find innovative ways to support education in Bayfield.
That includes helping pay for school trips, funding scholarships, and supporting continuing education for teachers.
It's unusual that a small, rural school district has an education foundation, noted Leon Hanhardt, the principal at Bayfield High School. Donations from the foundation free up other funds for schools to use, he said.
The foundation supports not only K-12 schools, but pre-kindergarten, post-secondary and adult education. The foundation's board members are receptive to requests from schools to support new programs, as well.
The foundation recently launched its website at www.bayfieldeducationfoundation.org.
The website includes stories from "old" Bayfield, with interviews of alumnae of Bayfield schools. One piece profiles LaVonne McCoy Elston and the four generations of her family members who have attended Bayfield schools, including her mother, Melba Ethridge McCoy, who graduated in 1935. In another profile, Phyllis Ludwig remembered her senior prom in 1959. The $16 gown she purchased in Durango for the big event was the first dress she ever bought in a store, she remembered.
This year, the foundation is asking BHS graduates to ride in classic cars in the Bayfield Heritage Days parade in September.
"We want to honor your years and years of being a Wolverine," foundation president Becky Smith told Bayfield senior citizens who were attending lunch at the senior center last month.
Another program the foundation runs pays for a substitute teacher and travel expenses for a teacher who wants to work on professional development. While it sounds like a small thing, it provides a big boost for local schools, Smith said.
There's also program enhancement, such as helping buy materials and supplies for classrooms. The foundation supports Bayfield Early Education Program, as well.
The foundation sponsored "Dude, Be Nice" week at BHS, and paid for all students to attend the movie "Wonder" in Durango, followed up by school discussions about bullying.
The foundation matches funds raised by school clubs and teams in an effort to reduce "funding fatigue" from having groups of kids visiting the same business every year seeking donations.
The foundation is now a nonprofit, and donors are honored on a wall at the Bayfield Performing Arts Center.
Donations to the foundation can be mailed to Bayfield Education Foundation, P.O. Box 1658, Bayfield, CO 81122 and also are accepted on the group's website.
For the end of the year, volunteers are focusing on the six scholarships the foundation provides, including one for a BHS graduate who is finishing college courses.
"We are so pleased to be growing our scholarship portfolio," Smith said. "We want to be ready to help a variety of students as they pursue their dreams."
Also serving on the board are treasurer Sherman Beye; secretary Barbara Wickman, the foundation's founder; Rick Smith, the corporate funding chair; and members Susan Johnson, Vera Ojdrovic-Beye, and Cathy Enns.
More information about the group is on Facebook or via email at email@example.com.