Get to know the Austin Public Education Foundation

Published 10:20 am Friday, December 20, 2013

By Dorothy Krob

Austin Public Education Foundation

Welcome to our monthly column about the Austin Public Education Foundation. We would like to announce the hiring of Jayna Heimark as our executive director. Jayna has been on the board of directors, so she knows the organization. With her history as an Austin native, Austin High School alum, and business leader, she is a perfect fit for the foundation. We thank Mary Clare Wadding for her years of service in this position.

Email newsletter signup

Each month, I will highlight activities and opportunities provided by the foundation. In each of the months to come, I’ll showcase a school and how the APEF has provided grants to facilitate creative learning. Our grants provide those opportunities for learners to soar. Last year, more than $31,000 was given to educators in the Austin Public Schools. To date, $350,000 in grants have been awarded since 1992.

The foundation is a nonprofit corporation separate from the Austin Public Schools. The only beneficiaries of its programs and projects are the more than 4,000 students. The money comes from the interest on the Huntting Endowment Fund and the Packer Endowment Fund. The Huntting Endowment was started with a donation from James and Joanne Huntting. Many other individuals, organizations, and businesses have joined the Hunttings to add to this fund. The grants awarded out of this fund are to benefit students and projects in all grade levels. The Packer Endowment Fund benefits co-curricular activities in the Austin Public Schools. More than 60 percent of the income generated from the investments of the Packer fund is used for boys’ and girls’ athletics at all grade levels. The endowments are never spent, only the interest earned is used.

Another source of income is the annual golf event. Mary Clare Wadding directed this event, bringing in $21,000 in July.

On Oct. 19, 1994, the old became new when the “Floor on the Wall” was dedicated to the Austin Public Education Foundation. Peggy Benzkofer and Mike Ruzek came up with this idea. Donors may dedicate a plaque made from the 1921 solid maple floor of the old gym.

Individuals and couples who give $250 or more and organizations and businesses who donate $500 or more, are recognized with a plate on the wall. Donors may choose to honor an individual, event, or program associated with the Austin Public Schools. The wall encompasses the names of many people who recall fondly their school experiences. It is a perfect memorial for loved ones. Many reunions have dedicated a plate to honor their class. By donating to the “Floor on the Wall” your gift will benefit many students for years to come.  The wall is located in the hallway between the two gyms on the south side of the building.

During this holiday season, please consider a donation to the Austin Public Education Foundation or the gift of a plate on the “Floor on the Wall”. By doing so, you are honoring a loved one while preserving the tradition of quality education for future students. Contact Dan Heins for information on the “Floor on the Wall” by calling him at 507-437-6948 in the evening or typing Austin Public Education Foundation, Austin, MN in your search engine. You may also send donations to: P.O. Box 878, Austin, MN

In January, I will highlight the grants awarded to Southgate School.