Forty years ago, Bob Klein and Richard Weinman befriended each other when their daughters were attending the same Mercer Island elementary school.
The duo had a shared vision of enriched educational opportunities for students and teachers through a privately funded organization, and the seeds for the Mercer Island Schools Foundation (MISF) were sown.
After setting up the foundation, they introduced it to Islanders by mailing postcards and raised less than $10,000 to go toward their dream of helping provide a quality education for all.
Over the years, the foundation has grown exponentially and has immensely impacted the community. In its lifespan, the foundation has raised more than $20 million, starting with funding new textbooks and computers at the outset and now financing teacher innovation grants, professional development for teachers, fine arts programs, curriculum and more.
According to Tammy Shoop, MISF executive director, “We have some critical needs that we will be raising money for this spring: we will be helping with academic and student wellness as well as temporary staffing positions for our district.”
MISF raised $433,000 at its “Building Tomorrow’s Future” event, the second annual virtual Spring for Schools showcase and auction on April 24. The campaign will run through the end of the foundation’s fiscal year in August and MISF’s goal is to reach the $800,000 fundraising mark.
While reflecting on their MISF formation on a video featured during the showcase, Klein said, “I feel it’s one of my best accomplishments in my life. I think there’s nothing more important than public education.”
Weinman, whose daughter teaches in the Mercer Island School District, added: “We started something that’s really been valuable to the community.”
During the livestream, co-host Hilary Benson said a high-quality education is a bridge to the future and that MISF is helping students become critical thinkers, compassionate citizens and the leaders of tomorrow.
A plethora of students had their say during a video and gave some insight into what drives them through their education and overall school experience: school spirit, the challenge of math class, the importance of school clubs, interacting and playing with friends, everyone voicing their opinion during class discussions and more.