Answers to Frequently Asked Questions...
- What is the purpose of the foundation?
The foundation's purpose is to attract, house and distribute private gifts of cash and property to and for the exclusive use of the students and educators of the Vicksburg Community School District.
- Who is involved in directing the foundation?
It is managed and directed by a group of private citizens (trustees) representing many aspects of the area's business, cultural, civic, and educational leadership. The trustees are our Board.
- Is the Board of Education and Administration involved?
Yes. The superintendent, assistant superintendent, and a representative of the Board of Education sit as permanent, ex-officio trustees. However, the vast majority of the trustees are not directly connected with the school district except as citizens interested and committed to the betterment of public education.
- What types of things does the foundation fund?
The mission of the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation is to encourage innovation in teaching and learning. Through grants and contributions to teachers, programs, students, and projects, the VCSF provides long-term benefit to the Vicksburg Community Schools and the students they serve. The VCSF gives grants to teachers and students in all subject areas and grade levels.
- Will these gifts reduce the taxpayers' obligation to the schools?
No. The foundation's mission is to supplement, augment, and complement the basic school program by providing new educational opportunities that would not otherwise be available except through private resources.
- Who decides what projects and programs the foundation will support?
Essentially, the trustees will decide what is to be funded. Donors to the foundation, however, may request their contributions to specific areas.
- How does the foundation raise its funds?
Funds are raised from individuals, corporations, and other organizations. However, the methods used by the foundation to attract private resources are not those commonly used by other school and school-related groups.
Generally, the foundation will be seeking substantial contributions for specific projects and programs. The foundation also will attract individual donations from outside of the district in the form of individual contributions, Vicksburg High School alumni, major corporations, and local and regional and national foundations.
- Are there any assurances that the foundation will use its funds as intended and will not lose funds through risky investments?
Yes. First, the foundation is a non-profit corporation chartered by the State of Michigan and subject to guidelines covering fundraising activities. Second, this corporation is granted exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue code and subject to further reporting requirements and rules covering such things as annual distributions, jeopardy investments, conflicts of interest, restricted funds, etc. The Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation places all its long term endowed accounts in the Kalamazoo Community Foundation for investing and grant distribution.
- Are all donations tax deductible?
"Donations are "eligible for tax deduction" in most cases. Some taxpayers file the Form 1040 short form and since 1986 have not been permitted to deduct charitable contributions. Generally, however, a tax deduction can be taken for up to 50% of an individualís annual adjusted gross income. Monies donated to the foundationís endowed accounts are eligible for a State of Michigan tax credit. Donors should check with their tax adviser.
- Does the foundation spend all that it raises or will it save money for the future?
Initially, the foundation expended most all of its funds to create positive educational impact on the District's students. Eventually, the Foundation has begun to attract major gifts from wills, trusts, real estate, life insurance, etc., and created an endowment fund that as it grows, will continuously provide resources to the schools without relying on current fund raising.
- Do teachers have a say in how funds are spent?
Yes. Most grant applications come directly from teachers and students. Also there are active and retired teachers on the Foundation Board.
- Can the foundation give funds to private schools or other organizations?
No. Under its state charter and federal exemption, the foundation may only give funds to the Vicksburg Community School District.
- Why do we need the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation?
Foundations in support of public education are a growing phenomenon throughout the country. In Michigan and elsewhere, school budgets are being trimmed to the bone, often eliminating the types of programming that encourage excellence and prepare students adequately for the workplace of today and tomorrow. The school foundation meets the challenge of supporting innovation in teaching and learning.
- Can't we simply give directly to the schools without bothering with a foundation?
Yes. However, the Foundation provides the most protected vehicle for making donations. Its exempt status allows the maximum amount of individual tax deduction. Many businesses and other organizations will not give to public entities without this qualifying status. Private foundations are somewhat restricted in giving to public schools, but are not restricted from giving to other foundations. In addition, the Foundation provides a "focus for support" by clearly stating the needs to be addressed and focusing on the businesses, individuals, and organizations mostly likely to support such needs.