La Crosse Public Education Foundation enhances learning opportunities for students in the School District of La Crosse and promotes community understanding and support for public education.

LPEF directs between $250,000 and $350,000 to students and staff in the School District of La Crosse each school year This includes about $90,000 in Gold Star classroom grants and more than $40,000 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

Admin Assistant – Tiffany Brubaker

(608) 789-8954

LPEF Board of Directors

The board of directors of the La Crosse Public Education Foundation are elected to three-year terms and may serve two terms.  To share your interest in joining the LPEF board of directors, please complete our Board Member Interest Form.

Heidi Odegaard, President, Mayo Clinic Health System
Laura Huber, Vice President, Viterbo University
Blake Barnes, Treasurer, Trust Point
Tracie Bosch, Secretary, parent and pre-school teacher at Congregational Preschool
Dr. Tom Thompson, Past President, retired veterinarian and former member of the Board of Education
Sandy Brekke, Gundersen Health System
Dr. Mark Brumm, Mayo Clinic Health System
Angela Erdenberger, Coulee Bank
Byron Holz, Logan High School
Dustin Hundt, CCFBank
Lisa Klein, UW-La Crosse
Xeng Lee, Longfellow Middle School
Amanda Westphal, Gundersen Health System
Margaret Dihlmann-Malzer, Honorary Member, Retired, Mayo Clinic Franciscan Healthcare
Dr. Aaron Engel, Ex-Officio, Superintendent, School District of La Crosse
Katie Berkedal, Ex-Officio, representative of Board of Education

Our History

VIDEO: 30 Years of Innovation in La Crosse Classrooms

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.