WEA Member Benefits Foundation initiatives
Effective teachers are the key to student success and empowering them with the resources they need to be effective in the classroom is vital. The WEA Member Benefits™ Foundation is leading two statewide initiatives, both of which are pilot projects to create funding paths for private philanthropy to address some of the biggest challenges facing public schools in Wisconsin:
- Establishing a funding path to help provide financial support of school-based mental health for PK-12 students.
- Testing a statewide funding model from private funders to help many rural and low-income PK-12 student households connect to the Internet.
Donations to the Foundation also help us support teachers and their communities through:
- WEA Member Benefits’ Annual Student Art Contest.
- Classroom supply grants for teachers.
- Professional development initiatives for educators.
- And more.
Learn more at weafoundation.org.
WEA Member Benefits Foundation update
WEA Member Benefits Foundation is very pleased to announce the establishment of new partnerships to financially support school-based mental health and to help students with internet access. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity created by WEA Member Benefits.
The Foundation is leading a statewide effort to establish a clear funding path to help philanthropic organizations and individuals provide financial support of school-based mental health and K–12 student access to the internet. These initiatives resulted from a series of discussions conducted by the Foundation to identify the top challenges facing Wisconsin’s public educators. School-based mental health and student internet access were mentioned frequently as major, unmet needs for K–12 students and schools.
Meeting the need
Recent studies have found at least 20% of all K–12 students face serious mental health challenges that affect their academic success and personal well-being. Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) estimates that during the COVID-19 pandemic, that number spiked to 60% for high school students.
The need for student access to the internet is also high. The DPI estimates that despite government funding and provider discounts, at least 15,000 K–12 student households are unable to afford the monthly internet connection fee.
DPI, the Public Service Commission (PSC), and other state organizations say that a major missing piece in funding both school-based mental health programs and student internet access is private philanthropy. Steve Goldberg, Executive Director* of the Foundation, explains, “We learned that financial support from philanthropic organizations and other donors has not been widespread—not for lack of interest, but due to the lack of a clear funding path for philanthropic support. Corporate foundations throughout Wisconsin told us they really want to help fund these two causes, but they just aren’t sure how.”
A path for funders
The Foundation is now developing a funding mechanism to bring more philanthropy to the table from funders throughout Wisconsin. We are partnering with the DPI, the PSC, and the Cooperative Education Services Agency (CESA) to build a funding path for student internet access. We are also partnering with DPI and the Wisconsin Coalition for Expanding School-Based Mental Health to establish a funding path to support school-based mental health.
In addition to these efforts, we are partnering with the Wisconsin Philanthropy Network and the Center for Community & Nonprofit Studies at UW-Madison to promote both funding paths and to recruit more funders once those models are tested. Pilot projects in selected school districts are scheduled for late 2021 and early 2022.
Early financial support
“We are thrilled with the response our approach has already generated,” says Steve. Accomplishments so far include:
- A $45,000 PSC grant to support our internet access pilots.
- Pledge of a $100,000 gift from one of our business partners (which Member Benefits will match) for our school-based mental health pilots.
- Additional support from other Member Benefits’ business partners who have pledged $35,000, which Member Benefits will also match.
Steve adds, “The total support from our business partners is $135,000—which means our goal of $200,000 is definitely within reach.
“Our ultimate goal is to bring more philanthropy to the table in order to help thousands of student households afford a local internet connection and to strengthen school-based mental health programs throughout the state.”
Want to help?
If you’d like to make a tax-deductible gift to support school-based mental health and/or student internet access, you can:
- Donate online at WEA Member Benefits Foundation.
- Send your check to: WEA Member Benefits Foundation, 660 John Nolen Dr., Madison, WI 53713
All donations received by 12/31/21 will be matched up to an aggregate of $200,000.
*Consultant to WEA Member Benefits Foundation representing Steve Goldberg Consulting, LLC.
The creation of WEA Member Benefits Foundation, Inc.
The Foundation came about based on our set of corporate beliefs.
At WEA Member Benefits:
- We believe in education.
- We believe in public schools.
- We believe every public school employee deserves to be financially secure.
The creation of the WEA Member Benefits Foundation is a natural extension of our beliefs. Its purpose is to support public education, public educators, and the communities they serve. The goal of the Foundation is to provide financial resources for their success.
This year’s WEA Member Benefits’ Annual Student Art Contest, for example, was co-sponsored by the Foundation. Thanks to a generous donor, students gained some very special recognition for their creative work. Learn more about our student art winners.
Donations to the Foundation are tax deductible to the extent allowed under applicable law and can be made in the form of cash or check, bequests from a will or estate plan, or qualified charitable distributions from an IRA. You may also name the WEA Member Benefits Foundation as a beneficiary in your IRA or 403(b) account.
Learn more about WEA Member Benefits Foundation and how to contribute, or contact us at 1-800-279-4030.