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Support a School. Raise a Community.

Through donations to LPEF, you have an immediate impact on the quality of La Crosse public schools and on the quality of life in our community

Our Mission

The mission of the La Crosse Public Education Foundation (LPEF) is to enhance learning opportunities for students in the School District of La Crosse and to promote community understanding and support for public education.

Why LPEF is important today

Spence Elementary Teacher Jennifer Wooley helps students who are planting in the school garden and outdoor learning space supported by an LPEF grant.

Funding for public schools was among the top 5 issues of community concern identified in surveys conducted for the 2018 COMPASS NOW report from the Great Rivers United Way. “Care and education for our children is very important if we want our communities to continue to be positive places to live and to improve in the future,” the report concluded, noting the strong links between education and better health, as well as helping people obtain better-paying jobs.

In an era of tight taxpayer-funded budgets, and uneven funding from the state and federal governments, LPEF plays an increasingly important role in helping the School District of La Crosse provide the extras that allow teachers to develop innovative, quality learning experiences for school children. LPEF also has become a key player in helping the District launch new initiatives, such as the AVID college readiness program, or equity efforts to close achievement gaps and provide all students with the opportunity to excel.

In recent years, LPEF’s support for District programs has ranged from $250,000 to $435,000 annually, depending on special projects. In its base annual budget, the LPEF Board has focused on increasing money available for teachers and others seeking classroom grants. During the 2017-18 school year, nearly $75,000 was awarded, up from $43,000 just four years earlier.

LPEF’s annual program areas

Every gift makes a difference in the lives of La Crosse school children

Amanda Thao (in back) with Lilly Retzlaff (left) and Emily Thao explore the globe. A $2,500 grant to their North Woods International School classroom provided resources to help them learn more collaboratively.

$35 – buys a nice backpack and supplies for a child in need
$50 – helps a student afford the ACT or SAT test for college admission
$100 – buys a good winter coat, hat and gloves for a needy student
$250 – covers the cost of unlimited city bus passes for five students each semester
$500 – buys more than 70 books designed to engage students in a love of reading
$1,000 — pays for a visiting artist to help students appreciate music or art
$1,500 – average grant awarded to a teacher for classroom innovation
$1,700 – average annual Random Acts of Kindness spending per school


Tax advantages of supporting LPEF

Contributions to LPEF qualify for maximum deductions for income, gift, and estate purposes, per IRS regulations. All gifts and grants to LPEF are promptly acknowledged via letter or electronic communication. Acknowledgements state the amount of a cash contribution, and (if true) a statement that no goods or services were provided by the organization in exchange for the gift. In cases where the benefactor receives something of value in return, LPEF provides a description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services. For in-kind gifts, LPEF provides a description of the non-cash contribution and may include language that explains the amount of money LPEF would have needed to expend to procure such an item.

If you are looking to maximize charitable donations in a single tax year (in order to itemize deductions), please consider a larger donation to LPEF in one year, rather than a series of smaller donations each year. LPEF can work with you to temporarily restrict a portion of your gift for future years, or for designated purposes. For more information, please contact Executive Director Nell Saunders-Scott at 608-787-0226 or email: nell@lacrosseeducationfoundation.org.

In explaining potential tax advantages of certain gifts, LPEF may make references to commonly understood benefits and tax consequences. However, it is LPEF policy to remind benefactors that LPEF does not provide tax, legal, financial or related advice concerning gifts, and encourages benefactors to seek out their own personal advisers on such matters.

Sound management from a small, professional staff and volunteer Board

LPEF is focused on maximizing the impact of donations by limiting administrative costs and working closely with the School District of La Crosse to ensure gifts are used as intended. LPEF has a small, professional staff (one full-time and two part-time employees) with direction from a volunteer Board of Directors who represent different facets of the community and also bring expertise and perspective to the LPEF mission. (Read more here.)

We can help you learn about the most pressing needs in local schools, and can help personalize a giving plan that reflects your interests and values — whether through a one-time gift or through a longer-term charitable giving plan. Our staff has the expertise to help you establish new endowment funds that can grow through thoughtful and tax-effective gifts made during your lifetime and/or through estate planning. We also can help devise a proper recognition program that will document your story of giving and your commitment to public education for future generations.

LPEF maintains high standards for ethics, accountability

The LPEF Board works with La Crosse-based investment advisers to provide careful stewardship of endowed assets, ensuring those funds serve needs now and in the future because only net investment returns are spent.

  • LPEF has published a copy of its IRS determination letter, will provide a W-9 form upon request, and will make annual tax returns available for inspection and copying.
  • We follow the Code of Ethical Standards of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and support AFP’s Donor Bill of Rights.
  • LPEF also is governed by its own conflicts of interest policy and nondiscrimination policy. Copies of these policies are available upon request.

LPEF provides regular updates for the public, including news releases to local media, on Foundation activities, such as the distribution of grants for classroom innovation. Elsewhere on this website, you can find the most recent posts about our activities, as well as other LPEF publications, plus links to the latest media coverage. Please follow us on social media:

Contact information

For more information, please contact Executive Director Nell Saunders-Scott at 608-787-0226 or email: nell@lacrosseeducationfoundation.org

Mail should be addressed to:

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

LPEF’s office is located in Room 109 of the Hogan Administrative Center, 807 East Ave S., La Crosse. Regular office hours are weekdays 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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