New Jersey Education Foundation Partnership (NJEFP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to public education in the State of New Jersey by empowering and supporting local education foundations (LEF), enabling them to provide funding for innovative programs, services, technology and more for their school districts. NJEFP aims to support foundations at a district level so that each foundation has the ability and knowledge to meet its unique needs. NJEFP provides its members with information, support and resources. Members are then equipped to establish, maintain and grow their foundations to meet the ever-changing needs of their school districts.
Local education foundations are most often made up of volunteers who want to make a positive impact on their community by supporting public education. A local education foundation is an independent, nonprofit corporation typically recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, and has its own board of directors. An education foundation operates separately and independently from the school district and board of education, but a strong working partnership among all entities increases the chance for long-term success. An education foundation is most often established so that funds can be raised to cover costs that the school district cannot cover through taxpayer dollars.
Most education foundations in NJ are all-volunteer run and, therefore, they often lack experience in managing a foundation, fund development and best practices in general. NJEFP fills this need by providing expert knowledge and support to start-ups, as well as continuing education for existing foundations.
NJEFP is sharing a few Education Foundation best practices with you:
- COLLABORATION: Alignment is key.
- The foundation should have an understanding of the district needs so they can provide maximum impact.
- The foundation should act as a positive communications tool for the district.
- The district should respect the mission of the foundation.
- The district must respect restricted donations.
- COMMUNICATE: Tools for communication between district and foundation.
- Foundation Board Member to give brief foundation update at all Board of Education meetings.
- Member of district staff to regularly update education foundation board about priorities and strategic plan.
- Share calendars to avoid major conflicts.
- Both parties should have a clear understanding of the foundation’s mission and priorities both short term and long term. These priorities should tie directly to the district strategic plan.
- EDUCATION FOUNDATION BOARD: Good governance practice.
- Maintain minutes of all board meetings
- Annually review policies and Bylaws
- Foundation Board Members review 990 and make 990 available to public.
- POLICIES EVERY NON-PROFIT NEEDS: These policies could impact the district therefore the district should be aware of and understand them.
- Conflict of Interest
- Gift Acceptance Policy
- Document Retention Policy
- Whistleblower Policy
- DISTRIBUTION OF FUNDS: Deciding how the money is spent.
- Gifts/grants to the District are typically restricted
- Restrictions must be documented prior to the gift being made and accepted
- Develop a process that details what steps must be taken in order for grant funds and other gifts from the LEF to be accepted
- Agree on a procedure for distributing funds received from the LEF
To learn more about NJEFP and their services visit ww.njefp.org.
- COLLABORATION: Alignment is key.