Overview: What We Do
The La Crosse Public Education Foundation focuses on enhancing the education of students in the School District of La Crosse through programs such as:
- Twice-annual grants to spur classroom innovation (see details below). Many programs are supported through endowment funds established by visionary community leaders and individuals with a passion for public education. For details, see this school-by-school list of grants awarded 2014-16.
- Support for staff development and teacher excellence.
- Random Acts of Kindness funds to remove obstacles facing individual students.
- Community activity that increases support for public education and teachers.
Excellence and Equity highlighted at 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.
The 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.
VIEW 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.)
- The first were announced April 6, 2016, as a second round of grants awarded during the 2015-16 school year: $25,314 awarded for 23 grants supporting schools.
- The second set were announced Dec. 1, 2016, representing the first round for the 2016-17 school year: Teacher training, visiting artists, outdoor classroom space featured in latest grants totaling $28,421.
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
2013-14 School Year Grants
See a list of grants awarded during the 2013-14 year.