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October 10, 2013

Milford finding innovative ways to fund school

Milford has found an innovative way to fund educational programs in an age of decreased state aid and tight school budgets.

The Milford Central School Education Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) established in January of 2009. The purpose of MEF is to build Milford’s future by supporting scholarship, entrepreneurship and philanthropy, often in conjunction with programs and efforts at the school.

Donations made to MEF are tax deductible. Private schools and colleges utilize their 501(c)(3) status to help in their fundraising efforts, which has inspired groups of people to set them up for the benefit of their public schools.

“It’s become a recent phenomena of public schools to utilize the 501(c)(3),” said Susan Bennis Ward, who chairs the Milford Board of Education and is the President of MEF.

Ward says that discussions on creating MEF began in the early 2000’s on the board of education.

MEF has a board of directors of nine people. Two of these directors are students, who are appointed by the board. MEF can also have up to two student representatives, who sit in on board meetings but do not vote.

“The students actually have the capability … of having a voice,” said Ward.

There are no stipulations as to who fills the seven remaining board of directors slots, whose present occupants include parents, community members and members of the board of education. Board members come up for reappointment on a revolving basis. The board of directors consists entirely of volunteers.

“Many of our founding members are still here now,” said Ward.

MEF has provided the funding for a number of different programs at the school.

These include paying for 20 middle school students to attend a science fair in Syracuse, funding senior mural plates and pottery classes, providing the dollars for an open mic night, paying for students to attend an organic farming conference and funding for a school wide mentoring program. Recently, MEF provided money for a new electronic scoreboard on the school’s basketball court.

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