A Q&A with PTEF Executive Director Mary Blake
Compiled by Nancy Hammerstrom
Please explain when and why the PTEF started.
The PTEF was created and incorporated on May 5, 1994, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. “The 13 community members were dedicated solely to the purpose of helping make Perry Township Schools the best around!” said Chuck Stumpf, a founder and current board member of PTEF. Since its creation, PTEF has been the primary source of private philanthropic support totaling above $1 million in grants to teachers, staff and administrators, each targeted at helping create innovative educational opportunities for all PTS students.
Tell us about the Helping Hand Grant and Kuntz Service-Learning endowment.
For the 2022-2023 school year a total of 47 Helping Hand Grants were distributed to educators in Perry Township, benefiting over 1,500 students. The service-learning grant supports a powerful avenue for youth to not only enhance their academic knowledge but also to develop essential life skills and a strong sense of social responsibility. As young people actively engage with their communities and work toward positive change, they not only contribute to the betterment of society but also undergo a transformative journey that shapes them into informed, empathetic and engaged citizens.
In the spirit of service learning, the youth of today are not just students; they are active contributors to a brighter and more compassionate future for all. The connection between the Kuntz Service-Learning Endowment and the James Whitcomb Riley Success Center is now in its second term and is blossoming both the endowment and the students. The teamwork and thought process that is going on in the classroom is beyond any of our expectations.
How did these grants make a difference in the lives of teachers and students?
- In January 2023, 16 elementary schools were granted $1,000 each from the PTEF-managed Borst grant, supporting educators and impacting more than 8,000 students.
- Annually, including 2023, four students received scholarships from the PTEF-managed endowments.
- Over 250 students were able to attend outdoor education overnight camps through special PTEF grants.
- Forty-one educators were honored through the PTEF Honor an Educator program.
PTEF was delighted to collaborate with the William Henry Burkhart Elementary School to establish a state-of-the-art Sensory Room. This joint venture represents a significant leap toward creating an inclusive educational space that caters to the diverse needs of students. The Sensory Room is carefully designed to provide a supportive environment, fostering optimal learning experiences for all. This is the first collaboration of its kind in Perry Township Schools, with PTEF funding the room, painting the room and installation of the equipment.
When did your involvement with PTEF begin, and how has it grown to where you are today?
In May 2022, I joined PTEF and was subsequently appointed as the executive director by the PTEF board. My appointment followed a comprehensive strategic planning activity conducted by the board. Since assuming the role of executive director, my primary focus has been on fostering the growth of PTEF through various avenues. This includes actively seeking additional sponsorships, engaging in grant writing initiatives, and fostering community involvement. By leveraging these strategies, I aim to contribute to the enhancement and expansion of PTEF’s mission and impact. My professional growth is important to the success of PTEF, and I have recently joined the Indiana Association of Public Education Foundations board and am currently working toward my certification in nonprofit leadership through Indiana University.
What is the 19.94 Club?
In honor of our founding year, we are excited to introduce the “19.94 Club.” For only a $19.94 monthly donation this exclusive membership is designed for individuals and organizations eager to make a lasting impact on education. Club members will enjoy special privileges; early registration to events, exclusive updates and the satisfaction of knowing they are part of a legacy that has shaped the future of countless students.
What are some additional ways the community can help?
Community members can be involved as an event day volunteer, administrative volunteer, committee member or board member. There are opportunities in all of our events to become an individual sponsor, corporate sponsor, or be a one-time or monthly donor.
What are some goals for PTEF in the near future?
We have several 2024 goals. One is to increase sponsorship, donations and diversify funding sources. It is imperative to secure additional sponsorships and donations to increase financial support for educational initiatives. PTEF is striving to enhance community involvement and grow awareness of PTEF’s mission. We will also enhance our evaluation and measurements of our impact. By implementing these goals and strategies, PTEF can continue to grow and make a positive and lasting impact on education in the Perry Township community.
In honor of the 30th anniversary, how will PTEF celebrate?
In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Perry Township Education Foundation, we have exciting plans that encompass a range of new events. These include a pickleball tournament, engaging trivia nights and the continuation of our annual golf outing. As part of the celebration, we will introduce an exclusive 30-year swag, providing a special memento for the occasion. Additionally, we are thrilled to announce new Impact Grant opportunities that will benefit both schools and the wider community, further reinforcing our commitment to fostering education and community development. Join our monthly e-news community to stay informed, sign up on our website or email directly to Mary@PTEF.org
Corporate sponsors supporting Perry Township educators and students:
Community Health Network
The Skillman Corporation (Event specific)
Jackson Sky Web Design and Development
Stifel Public Finance
Williams Comfort Air and Mr. Plumber