Our Mission

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

VIDEO: 30 Years of Innovation in La Crosse Classrooms

Our History

Ann Petersen leads the march down the hallways at Northside Elementary School.

Ann Petersen, a graduating senior at Logan High School, leads the march down the hallways at Northside Elementary School for the senior march in May 2016.

The La Crosse Public Education Foundation was founded in 1988 by some very forward-looking La Crosse residents who were passionate in their support of public education in La Crosse. The organization received its official 501(c)(3) status in February 1989.

Key founders and early supporters include: Jean Bassett, Kathryn Cappelen, Harry Dahl, Sue Durtsche, Roberta Gelatt, Elmer Grassman, Rachel Gundersen, Robert Johnson, Audrey Kader, Marilyn Kochsiek, R. Bruce Larson, Richard Lommen, Dr. Charles H. Miller III, Jess Ondell, Ronald Paczkowski, Nancy Quinlisk, Thomas Sleik, Roland Solberg, Gary Stuhr, Brad Sturm, Richard Swantz and Dorothy Tonnis. (See a complete Board history here.)

They established an endowment at the La Crosse Community Foundation in 1991 to help fund the work we do – investing in school innovation through grants that are awarded to teachers and staff for fresh, creative programs and curriculum that cannot be funded through the district’s already tight budget. Over the years, community members, local businesses and school district staff have contributed generously. Among many individuals and businesses who donated to the initial endowment were these major donors:

  • The Gelatt Family, including Northern Engraving Corp., the Gelatt Foundation, Roberta and Daniel Gelatt, and Philip and Elizabeth Gelatt
  • Russell and Gail Cleary
  • Harry Dahl
  • Rachel Gundersen
  • Richard Lommen/Ronald McDonald House Charities
  • First Federal (now Associated Bank)
  • Northern States Power (now Xcel Energy)
  • Norwest Bank (now Wells Fargo)
  • La Crosse Tribune
  • Trane Co.

The Foundation expects to provide more than $300,000 in support in 2021 to students and staff in the School District of La Crosse. This includes about $80,000 in Gold Star classroom grants and more than $30,000 for Random Acts of Kindness to meet needs of students in areas such as nutrition, hygiene, clothing, and transportation.

Executive Director – Nell Saunders-Scott


(608) 787-0226

Operations Coordinator – Amy McKnight


(608) 789-8954


LPEF Board of Directors

The board of directors of the La Crosse Public Education Foundation is a group of individuals who share the common belief that education is one of the most important values and qualities we can possibly impart to our children. Directors are elected to three-year terms and may serve two terms.

For more information on Board service, please contact Executive Director Nell Saunders-Scott at nell@lacrosseeducationfoundation.org.


Dr. Tom Thompson, President, retired veterinarian and former member of the Board of Education

Heidi Odegaard, Vice President, Mayo Clinic Health System

Adam Kendle, Treasurer, Gillette & Associates CPAs

Tracie Bosch, Secretary, parent and pre-school teacher at Congregational Preschool


Sandy Brekke, Gundersen Health System

Dr. Mark Brumm, Mayo Clinic Health System

Angela Erdenberger, Coulee Bank

Byron Holz, Logan High School

Laura Huber, Viterbo University

Lisa Klein, UW-La Crosse

Xeng Lee, Longfellow Middle School

Kathie Tyser, Retired Administrator, School District of La Crosse

Amanda Westphal, Gundersen Health System

Honorary Member

Margaret Dihlmann-Malzer, Retired, Mayo Clinic Franciscan Healthcare

Ex Officio

Aaron Engel, Superintendent, School District of La Crosse

Annie Baumann, representative of Board of Education