Foundation to Aid O.C. Schools Sets $50-Million Goal


The county bankruptcy has inspired the leaders of several school district fund-raising groups to create a countywide education foundation.

Their ambitious goal is to create a $50-million endowment fund with donations from corporations previously reluctant to favor one school district over another. Endowment fund interest income would be distributed to district foundations on a per-student basis for support of specific programs.

“We want to tap into funding sources who want to help public schools, but who don’t know how to deal with 28 different school districts,” said Elizabeth Thomas, executive director of the Irvine Education Foundation.


Twelve of the county’s 15 education foundations have signed on to the new Orange County Public Schools Fund, headed by Thomas.

On April 1 and 2, a portion of the proceeds from the seventh annual Kids Stuff Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center will be donated to the new organization.

The timing is right, according to Tustin Unified School District Supt. David L. Andrews, who wrote a doctoral dissertation on public education foundations.

“Whenever you have economic downturns, public schools foundations have an upturn,” Andrews said.

J. Robert Fluor, vice president of corporate relations for Fluor Corp., said county businesses would welcome the countywide approach. “This was a good idea long before the county’s problems surfaced,” Fluor said.

Capistrano Unified School District Supt. James A. Fleming supports the idea as a way to expand fund-raising beyond school district boundaries.


“We have very few large corporations with headquarters here,” Fleming said. “However, we have many parents who work in major corporations. I have always felt there should be a way to tap into that resource.”