Nearly $18,000 added to Swantz Fund, providing perpetual support for teacher training

A fundraising campaign led by retired Superintendent of Schools Richard Swantz has added almost $18,000 to an endowment fund dedicated to perpetual support for teacher training in the School District of La Crosse.

More than 60 donors contributed to the La Crosse Public Education Foundation (LPEF) through the campaign launched last fall. As a result, the Swantz Endowment Fund at the La Crosse Community Foundation has now grown to exceed $44,000. That should lead to an annual grant in excess of $2,000 to encourage teachers to experiment and bring new ideas to their classrooms.

Former Superintendent Richard Swantz, left, with current Superintendent Randy Nelson at a Nov. 2019 dinner celebrating LPEF’s 30th anniversary.

“Being a teacher today is no picnic,” said Richard Swantz, who retired in 1998 as superintendent. “When I visit schools today, I see teachers dealing with rapid changes in technology, and a broad array of social issues, including children dealing with poverty, family trauma, and physical and mental health challenges. To give children their best, teachers need access to training – and the District just doesn’t have enough money to meet all the needs,” Swantz said.

Swantz and his wife, Judy, helped establish the endowment following his retirement and have supported it with regular donations. With added gifts from friends and colleagues, the fund has increased modestly over the years, but will grow in size by more than 70% as a result of this campaign.

The Community Foundation invests and manages the Swantz Fund to guarantee perpetual support for teacher training in the La Crosse public schools. The fund provides an annual grant to LPEF, which accepts applications from teachers and others in the District seeking staff development funding. In recent years, grants have:

  • Bought books to help staff learn more about equity and social justice issues.
  • Provided a one-day session on dealing with student behavior issues.
  • Trained teachers on how to help parents better prepare their 3- and 4-year-olds for success in school.
  • Helped teaching assistants of color return to college to earn full education degrees.

Following retirement after 21 years as superintendent, Swantz remained active in education and other roles. He served eight years as a member of the La Crosse Common Council, the last four as council president. He was a co-founder of LPEF in 1988 and is an honorary member of the LPEF Board.

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