Forsyth County Education Foundation leaders announced at the Board of Education’s regular meeting Tuesday that they raised more than $115,000 during the 2021 Duck Dive for Education.
Board of Directors Chair Evan Profeta publicly thanked everyone who participated and donated to the foundation during this year’s Duck Dive at the meeting. Many local businesses also showed an “outpouring of support,” with $70,000 in donations coming from sponsorships.
With $115,352 raised in total, Profeta said all of the funds will be going directly into the county’s schools.
“We’re very, very excited about that, of course,” Profeta said. “We exceeded our goal, and it helped us set a new goal for next year.”
The funds will be given out to schools through grants as usual, and the grant application is currently available for schools ahead of the 2021 Foundation FriYay. At this event, scheduled this year for Aug. 27, all grant winners will be announced and presented with a check.
“That will be a great way to kick off the new school year, helping teachers with their projects,” Profeta said.
The foundation also recognized Sawnee Elementary School where families, teachers and administrators adopted the greatest number of ducks. The board of directors decided to surprise the school with something special as a thanks for their donations — a full-day visit for students from Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden.
Outside of sharing funds raised from the Duck Dive this year, foundation leaders also shared with the Board of Education on Tuesday an update on what the Education Foundation has accomplished over the past year.
Hannah Samples, a communications facilitator for Forsyth County Schools and a foundation organizer, added that part of the Duck Dive’s success this year can be accredited to an operational change. The foundation added a My Payments Plus option for families in the district, which allows them to easily log in online to pay for school spirit wear, student fees and more.
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“During the Duck Dive, it popped up every time a parent got on [to pay a fee] — they were also reminded of the Duck Dive,” Samples said. “That was very instrumental in our money raised for the Duck Dive in particular.”
The foundation raised another $5,000 earlier this year through the New Educator Orientation event, which is usually held in person with entrance fees for vendors. Although they had to hold it virtually this year, Samples said it was still a success.
Families of former FCS educators have also donated money to fund scholarships in memory of their loved ones who have passed away. One of the scholarships now offered through the foundation, the Tammy Waddell Memorial Scholarship, is for students who plan to study education in college.
Students can find more about these scholarships through the Education Foundation’s website, www.forsyth.k12.ga.us/edfoundation.
Samples said the foundation also plans to continue with their Dining with Dignity program beginning with the 2021-22 school year.
The program, started early in 2020, allows for donations to be placed into each school’s cafeteria house fund. Through the fund, students can take a meal of their choice instead of a free cheese sandwich. Funds are taken out of the house account at the end of the year to pay off any negative balances on students’ accounts.
Since meals are currently free for students through the end of the school year thanks to federal funds, the program was placed on pause soon after its inception.
Before the end of the meeting Tuesday, Bearden thanked the board of directors overseeing the foundation and the work that they continue to do within the school system and community.
“You all have busy lives, and you chose to make this part of your volunteering in our community,” Bearden said. “We would not be as successful as we are today without you and the other members of our board, so thank you so much for working with us and for all of your contributions to the foundation. It’s greatly appreciated.”