As summer looms, and our days grow longer and brighter, an important annual tradition on our Island is drawing to a close, and it needs everyone’s support and attention. The Mercer Island Schools Foundation’s BRIDGE 2018 campaign is our opportunity as a community to come together to support our children’s education, invest in our most important community asset – our schools – and provide the outstanding educators on Mercer Island the resources they need to go not just provide basic education, but rather expectational education we as a community have prioritized for decades.
For everyone who has donated to the campaign this year, I’d like to say thank you. Your investment is what makes our school district one of the best performing educational organizations in the State of Washington. Unfortunately, we are still well below our goals for the campaign.
Last year, we were in a similar situation. As a board member of the foundation for eight years, I have seen a gradual softening of support for the annual spring campaign. At this time last year, it was evident that we would be $300,000 short of our goal. With the State of Washington continuing to barely cover basic education, let alone exceptional education, I worried that the gradual decline in the Foundation’s contributions to the District would eventually weaken our educators’ vision and strategies to keep Mercer Island schools at the top of their game.
And then, on the very last day of our BRIDGE 2017 campaign, a Mercer Island family who was relatively new to our community stepped in to fill the entire gap, in order for the foundation to meet its goal. When I asked what motivated what is the single-largest gift ever given to MISF, the family responded simply that “we had the resources to help our community, felt it was our obligation to support our new home and our children’s education, and wanted our example to serve as an inspiration for other community members with the resources to help as well.” It was truly extraordinary, and a bold gesture that is so inspiring and uplifting.
This year, I am not counting on another miracle gift to magically whisk us across the finish line of our $1.2 million goal. Instead, I am hoping that the example of the family that made such a meaningful and impactful gift to all of the youth on Mercer Island will inspire all of us to look at our own ability to step up and invest in what we hold most precious – our children, our community and the possibilities that education delivers on for a better future for all of us.
Please donate online: misf.com/donate
By mail: PO Box 1243, Mercer Island, WA 98040
Cliff Sharples is a president of the Mercer Island Schools Foundation board.