This past April, I met with one of your Leawood South neighbors, Susan Tideman, and a former Leawood South resident, Lisa Austin, over a cup of coffee to learn about how they are involved with making a difference in the community. Susan is the Executive Director of Blue Valley Educational Foundation (BVEF) and Lisa is their Communications Coordinator. A simple cup of coffee to share BVEF quickly became more than a few notes! I decided to just sit back to listen about the vast and numerous ways in which BVEF supports the Blue Valley School District!
The Blue Valley Educational Foundation was created as the “fundraising arm” of the Blue Valley School District. They help raise and disperse funds that flow directly to classrooms. This year, they were able to give out $683,177.78. The aim of the organization is “to enrich educational excellence in the district.”
This year, BVEF gave out a total of…$683,177.78 !
149 teacher grants for a total of $208K
$342K for the BV Food Pantry
$37K to suicide prevention programs
$30K each calendar year with two cycles of Women’s Giving Circle grants
BVEF has been investing in the Blue Valley schools to the tune of $7.4 billion in the past 30 years. This year, the 149 teacher grants were valued at $280K. The foundation encourages educators to “think outside the box.” Teachers understand that through grants and district-wide programs, they will be supported resulting in many benefits and opportunities for learning. The grants are distributed within the four priorities of need; Mental Health and Wellness, Teacher Recruitment and Retention, Performing Arts, and Career Technical Education.
Each month of the year, the foundation keeps busy raising and giving money to the district. One example is the Welcome to BV event, which gave more than 200 new teachers gift cards to help with classroom set-up expenses which typically come out-of-pocket. Another example is the Bridge to the Future Annual Community Breakfast which typically brings over $300K to the foundation. At the breakfast, BVEF celebrates accomplishments, gives awards, highlights sponsors, and hears the goals of the administrators of BVSD for the upcoming school year.
Yet another amazing example of money well spent was the continued partnership with JCCC through their Career Tech Ed programs. By helping with a portion of tuition and books, high school juniors and seniors can offset some of the cost of these credential expenses. BVEF has invested over $250K which has helped more than 200 students who are interested in earning credentials in the technical industries such as Automotive, Construction, Fire Science, Nail Technician, Plumbing, and Hospitality to name a few.
Blue Valley Educational Foundation’s support of mental health and wellness is so valued. The giving this year was in the amount of 37K for suicide prevention programs alone. The BV Well group is a parent support and education group designed to help families and children. BV Well offers national speakers and specialists and hosts several events to help deal with stress and coping in a multitude of areas.
Annual Education Awards are given to Teacher of the Year, Master Teacher of the Year, and Innovative Educator of the Year. Each recipient receives $1,250 in addition to the honor!
A notable donation was given in January of 2022 by former Blue Valley Northwest graduate and Dropbox founder, Arash Ferdowski. The donation was $500,000 which was the largest single gift in the foundation’s 32-year history! The Ferdowski Fund will continue to help students and teachers for many years to come! Arash hoped to also “inspire other capable donors to make similar donations” to the Blue Valley Schools.
So many more groups and events are happening within Blue Valley Educational Foundation. To list just a few more could include, The Women’s Giving Circle which offers $15,000 grant opportunities, The Battle of the Bands which supports band uniforms and music fees for students, the Payroll Donation Campaign, Major Saver Campaign, and the Night of Lights which draws thousands of participants and dollars and celebrates all the amazing people who make up Blue Valley Educational Foundation.
With the combined commitments from the community and local businesses, educators, families, and the Blue Valley Educational Foundation, the students are supported in multiple ways that are enriching and fun…the way education should be!
For more information or to give support, please contact the Blue Valley Educational Foundation at:
Blue Valley Educational Foundation
15020 Metcalf Ave.
Overland Park, KS 66223