The Dickson Foundation for Excellence has been quietly helping Dickson Public Schools for years, but the organization is looking to broaden its horizons.
The organization, governed by a board of seven volunteers, raises money for the district’s classroom needs with a biannual auction held at the school that typically brings in between $8,000 and $10,000. Board president Cindy McKeown said this year’s auction, held Saturday, was well-attended and raised approximately $8,500.
“We had a good turnout, and there was lots of involvement from the school,” McKeown said.
Area businesses and organizations donate auction items every year. Next year, the board plans to add a bingo night fundraiser to the docket as well.
“I’ve been working with our school to be cohesive in our endeavors, and I hope to continue that relationship to be even deeper and broader,” McKeown said.
The foundation recently helped the school purchase a class set of the novel The Cay, but McKeown said, right now, one of the district’s most pressing needs is more technology for students to use, like class sets of laptops or tablets.
“I was shocked when I sat down with the superintendent,” McKeown said. “There have been a lot of technology improvements actually, but there is still a great need.”
To address that need, the board may need to get creative. She said she wants to expand the organization’s efforts by reaching out to other Foundation for Excellence groups and learning from them.
“I want to get involved with similar organizations to make sure we’re doing everything we can to benefit our school,” McKeown said.
The foundation fundraises through other means as well. Valero, McKeown said, has provided a grant to the foundation for several years. Other donors from this year include Mercy Hospital, Big River Sales, Steve Bean Construction, Washita Valley Sod, and about 20 others, not including auction items from organizations like the Dickson Police and Fire Departments. A full list of donors can be found on the foundation’s Facebook page.
“It is an enormous benefit,” she said. “We are able to fund so much more because of them and their help.”
She said schools often pass bonds for large-scale projects like new construction, renovation of old facilities or transportation, but budget cuts impact other day-to-day needs, like supplies and equipment.
“You’ve got so many bonds being passed to improve infrastructure,” McKeown said. “A lot of times, the funding is limited for smaller items. It would be nice for a board like ours to be able to fill in the gaps on some of those.”