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Posted on Mon, Jul 19, 2010 : 5:35 p.m.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation announces $100,000 donation in fundraising campaign

By Juliana Keeping

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation got a big boost in its fundraising efforts today, just as it prepares to wrap up its four-month campaign to drum up an additional $1 million cash for Ann Arbor Public Schools programs.

While it's unlikely the foundation will meet its goal, it announced a $100,000 donation from the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop today and said it's working on a $50,000 matching grant. In total, the campaign has raised $300,000 and will wrap up July 31.

“I think we have made a great first foray into major gift fundraising for private funding of public education in Ann Arbor,” Executive Director Wendy Correll said, adding AAPSEF usually brings in about $200,000 annually.

The foundation, formed in 1991, has traditionally focused on smaller-scale fundraising for the district. But that changed with the failure of the countywide schools enhancement millage last fall. In April, AAPSEF launched One Million Reasons.

“The possibility of losing between $12 (million) and $20 million in one academic year is very significant,” Correll said. “We decided this was an important thing to do to maintain the quality and reputation of the programs in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.”

With the greater effort came greater scrutiny.

An article in June showed the AAPSEF spent more money on overhead than it supplied to the Ann Arbor school district in each of the last two fiscal years.

For example, 47 percent of the money it raised from donors went to overhead last school year for things like staff salaries, printing and postage, tax records show. Almost a third was spent on grants, while the rest went to the foundation’s fund balance.

At that time, Correll said the group was working to contain costs, but a nonprofit organization requires professionals to run it and keep it honest.

Today, Correll said the organization has promised donors to keep overhead costs associated with One Million Reasons funds at 18 percent or lower. She said the article was only a partial snapshot of the organization, but declined to elaborate.

The money raised in the organization’s ongoing campaign will be put toward programs at risk of being cut following the failure of the millage, Correll said. Programs like the world language in the K-12 district’s elementary schools could get a funding boost in the next academic year, she said.

Additionally, the foundation intends to track the success of the programs it funds. World language students could be tested for proficiency, for example.

“The goal of the organization is to help all students in the Ann Arbor Public Schools achieve their highest possible level,” she said.'s David Jesse contributed to this report.

Juliana Keeping is a reporter for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter



Tue, Aug 10, 2010 : 5:18 p.m.

Has the AAPSEF met its goal of raising $1 million by 7/31? Has there been any announcement? There was a lot of PR. How'd they do?


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 8:47 p.m.

a2mom - look for the interconnedted "boards" of these two organizations to fully understand the funding shenanigans. AAPSEF took a major PR hit last month concerning overhead and this is just a paperwork move to improve admittedly dismal numbers. Yet another reason to NOT give any money to AAPSEF. I for one will be driving over to the Salvation Army and Recycle Ann Arbor with my donations going forward.

Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 10:27 a.m.

So let me get this straight. The PTSO Thrift Shop donates all it's money to the AAPS: to individual schools, PTOs, bands, choirs, clubs, teams, etc. Now they're giving the money to the AAPSEF, who will in turn give the money to the AAPS. Sounds like the AAPSEF is acting as the middle man, and the AAPS is losing at least 18% of the money for 'overhead' for the AAPSEF 'professional' staff. Sounds like a switch and bait, with the AAPSEF deciding how to spend the PTSO money, instead of the PTSO. So if you take away the $100K from the PTSO Thift shop (which is already money that the AAPS would be getting), the AAPSEF has not raised any more money this year than last year. How do they propose to cut their 47% overhead, when they still have the same salaries, and are still raising the same amount of money? What a sham! and a dis-service to the children of the AAPS.


Wed, Jul 21, 2010 : 3:08 a.m.

Yes, the world language program has drained resources. The schools just want to say that they teach foreign language in elementary school. But it is just exposure. Look at the really successful charter schools. They are not offering any of the extras and they are thriving. AAPS still has no idea what it is that parents are looking for in an elementary school.


Tue, Jul 20, 2010 : 3:02 p.m.

What??? It's a shame this money is being redirected away from supporting the activities and programs of students, clubs, teams and PTOs at a time when these groups are scrambling for funds and facing increased financial burdens because of less support from the District.


Tue, Jul 20, 2010 : 11:52 a.m.

It would seem some of this money would go toward programs for the under served student that attend AAPS to help close the achievement gaps between the over served student! Why in a bad economy with all the negative attention that plague AASP system would we raise all this money for World Language classes.... This seems a bit conservative and only benefit certain groups of people. Maybe that why this year with school of choice in AASP parents from other community's aren't knocking the doors down.