Overview: What We Do

  • Twice-annual grants to spur classroom innovation. Many programs are supported through endowment funds established by visionary community leaders and individuals with a passion for public education.
  • Support for staff development and teacher excellence.
  • Random Acts of Kindness funds to remove obstacles facing individual students.
  • Thank a Teacher Day and other community activity that increases support for public education and teachers.

Read about our latest grants: Nearly $42,000 awarded in grants to La Crosse schools


“Community Schools: Engaging Families, Meeting Needs” set as theme for 2018 Grants Award Luncheon

Annual recognition program for grant recipients and other award winners set for Jan. 22, 2018

Tickets are $25 and RSVPs are due Jan. 12 for luncheon

More than 80 educators who have received grants and awards from the La Crosse Public Education Foundation will be honored this year at our annual Grants Award Luncheon, set for Monday, Jan. 22, 2018.

Festival Foods is the presenting sponsor of the Grants Award Luncheon.

This year’s theme is a focus on Community Schools: Engaging Families, Meeting Needs. Attendees will learn how the Community School concept will help Northside Elementary and Hamilton Elementary enhance student learning by developing supports for children, parents, families and community members within the school neighborhood. The Board of Education has approved funding for Community School Coordinators at each school, with programming expected to start by summer 2018. The LPEF Board has approved start-up grants to each school in the amount of $7,500.

In addition to information about implementation at Hamilton and Northside, attendees at the luncheon will hear how the concept is being developed in nearby Rochester, Minn. Our speaker will be Julie Ruzek, Facilitator of Family and Community Engagement, Rochester (Minn.) Public Schools.

The program highlights recipients of nearly $33,000 in grants awarded last April, and another $42,000 in grants awarded in early December.  The Foundation also will provide special recognition to the following supporters of LPEF and public education in our community:

  • Corporate Partner in Education, presented annually to a business with a deep commitment to public education in our community — Coulee Bank for its long-standing support of LPEF and other children’s charities.
  • Leadership Award, presented annually to an individual who has demonstrated great service, passion, and leadership in support of our public schools — Joe Ledvina, the District supervisor of buildings and grounds, for his diligent work on behalf of taxpayers and his support of LPEF.
  • Margaret Dihlmann-Malzer Distinguished Service Award, presented in recognition of service to the community and to the La Crosse Public Education Foundation — Tom and Judy Sleik, longtime volunteers and former board members of LPEF.

Click image to open PDF of RSVP card. Return with payment by Jan. 12 to: LPEF, PO Box 1811, La Crosse, WI 54602.

DETAILS AND RSVP INFORMATION: The luncheon will be held from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Cargill Room at The Waterfront, 328 Front Street South. Doors open at 11 a.m. To RSVP, click on the adjacent RSVP card image, then print and complete the card and send it, along with payment of $25 for each ticket, to:

La Crosse Public Education Foundation, PO Box 1811, La Crosse, WI 54602.

Or you may contact our office at (608) 787-0226, or email Executive Director David Stoeffler at david@lacrosseeducationfoundation.org






Excellence and Equity highlighted at 2017 Grants Award Luncheon

More than 200 people gathered in the Cargill Room at The Waterfront for the 2017 Grants Award Luncheon.

Recipients of 43 grants honored at 2017 event

More than 200 community members and School District of La Crosse employees came together in a celebration of public schools at the annual Grants Award Luncheon hosted by the La Crosse Public Education Foundation.

Superintendent Randy Nelson (center) presents Corporate Partner in Education Award to Festival Foods and Barb and Dave Skogen.

Dave and Barb Skogen accepted the LPEF Corporate Partner in Education Award from Superintendent Randy Nelson. (Photo by Diane Gebhart)

Festival Logo - high resolution jpg formatThe luncheon — presented by Festival Foods — celebrates teachers, staff, students and community members whose grant requests provide examples of the kind of creativity and dedication seen every day in the School District of La Crosse.

In all, nearly 70 teachers and other grant recipients were recognized during the event on Jan. 16, 2017, which also saluted three special award winners:

  • Corporate Partner in Education — Festival Foods and Dave and Barb Skogen
  • Leadership Award — Annette O’Hern, the District’s supervisor of Career and Choice Education
  • Distinguished Service Award — Gregory Bonney, former LPEF Board president and an attorney at Johns, Flaherty & Collins


For more information on the special award winners, please see: Celebrating our volunteers and partners.

Sponsor logosVIEW PHOTO GALLERY from the 2017 Grants Award Luncheon, with photography by Diane Gebhart.

Grant recipients honored came primarily from two rounds of grants announced last year by the Foundation. (View a PDF presentation of all grant recipients and award winners honored at the luncheon.)

Superintendent Randy Nelson was the featured speaker, talking about equity issues in our schools.

Randy Nelson says the work being done by teachers and staff in our schools “is nothing short of heroic.” (Photo by Diane Gebhart)

Superintendent of Schools Randy Nelson was the featured speaker, talking about the need for the District to address systemic issues with inequities in our schools — and in our community. “Our schools are reflected in our community, and our community is reflected in our schools,” Nelson said.

Many families are struggling to provide children with the quality family time and support to be successful in school, and in life. “When your family is in survival mode, attending school is not always a high priority,” Nelson said, crediting teachers and other District employees with working hard to overcome major obstacles to student success.

Nelson explained some of the District’s efforts to develop new approaches, including last summer’s Equity Institute training that included more than 200 teachers and administrators.

He said the District is looking inward, examining past practices that may have inhibited students even though the programs were designed to help. Nelson acknowledged his own shortcomings, asking the staff “to take a journey with me,” to examine their own biases, and the expectations they have for students.

And Nelson said the District would look outward to the community for help in creating “a community and a school culture where everyone is afforded an opportunity,” regardless of gender, ethnic and other differences.

“We’re all in this together,” Nelson said.

The La Crosse Public Education Foundation has been supporting La Crosse public schools for more than 28 years. The Foundation provides classroom grants, staff development money and other support for students – funding programs and projects that are not covered by tax-dollars. In all, the Foundation expects to provide more than $150,000 in support this year to the School District of La Crosse.

The Foundation’s work would not be possible without the generous support of many people, including these luncheon sponsors:

  • Presenting sponsor: Festival Foods.
  • Named Grant Sponsors: Coulee Bank; Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare; Trust Point; LHI; Gundersen Health System;  and Rachel Gundersen.
  • Corporate Investors/Named Grant Sponsors: Wells Fargo, State Bank Financial; and Altra Federal Credit Union.
  • Other Corporate Investors: First Supply/Gerhards; and The Insurance Center.
  • Grant Sponsors: Borton Construction; Dairyland Power Cooperative; Kaplan Professional Education; Xcel Energy; and News 8 WKBT.
  • Table Sponsors: Association of La Crosse School Administrators; Board of Education, School District of La Crosse; Johns, Flaherty & Collins; La Crosse Education Association; Fowler & Hammer; UW-La Crosse/UW-L Foundation; and Viterbo University.
  • Teacher Sponsor: WIPFLI LLP; Clason Buick GMC; and GO Riteway.
Read this post for a school-by-school summary of grants awarded in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.
2016 Grants Award Luncheon

“Strong Schools, Strong Community” was the theme of the 2016 Grants Award Luncheon, held Jan. 18, 2016. Read more, link to a list of grants and link to a photo gallery here. 

2015 Grants Award Luncheon

Read about the 2015 Grants Award Luncheon, or link to a list and short description of grants recognized during the luncheon: $31,000 in grants support innovation in schools.

2013-14 School Year Grants

See a list of grants awarded during the 2013-14 year.