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 $350,000 in support in 2019 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 David Stoeffler

Email: david@lacrosseeducationfoundation.org

Office: (608) 787-0226

David Stoeffler 2015_smallDavid Stoeffler, a southwest Wisconsin native and Viterbo University graduate, is executive director of the La Crosse Public Education Foundation.

David joined the foundation in June 2014 after a nearly 35 year career in the newspaper business. Among his jobs, David was a reporter at the La Crosse Tribune from 1979-1981, and returned as the Tribune editor in 1995-97. In every community where he served, David was active in community affairs related to children’s issues. As editor of the Tribune, David was a co-founder of the Extra Effort Awards, which recognize high school seniors who have overcome obstacles. In St. Louis, he was president of a charity that raised and distributed money to children’s charities.

In his last position, as Executive Editor of the News-Leader in Springfield, Missouri, David was a co-founder of the Every Child Promise, which has raised $1 million to fund pilot projects as part of a long-range plan “so that every child age birth to 6 has the opportunity to enter our schools ready to learn.”

David is a member of the Rotary Club of La Crosse and supports other community activities, including the Coulee Region Compassion Alliance.

Administrative Assistant 

Dawn Hemker   dawnh@lacrosseeducationfoundation.org

Dawn oversees financial accounting for LPEF, including working closely with schools on Random Acts of Kindness accounts.

Grants Coordinator 

Denise Vujnovich   denise@lacrosseeducationfoundation.org

Denise oversees LPEF’s grant-seeking efforts, identifying and writing proposals for local, regional and national grants that will help LPEF fulfill its mission to enhance learning opportunities for students in the School District of La Crosse. For questions about grants awarded by LPEF, contact David Stoeffler.

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 David Stoeffler at  david@lacrosseeducationfoundation.org.


Rochelle Nicks, President, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration

Anna Prinsen, Vice President, Modern Crane Service

Adam Kendle, Treasurer, Gillette & Associates CPAs

Kathie Tyser, Secretary, Retired Administrator, School District of La Crosse


Dr. Mark Brumm, Mayo Clinic Health System

Scott Chorski, News 8 WKBT

Angela Erdenberger, Coulee Bank

Byron Holz, Logan High School

Kelly Krieg-Sigman, retired director of La Crosse Public Library

Roger LeGrand, retired judge

Cari Mathwig Ramseier, Viterbo University

Scott Mihalovic, Viterbo University

Julie Nelson, Great Rivers United Way

Heidi Odegaard, Mayo Clinic Health System

Angela StrangmanPast President, Trust Point

John Stuber, Stuber Law Office

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

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

Brad Quarberg, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, representative of Board of Education