By Elyse Kaner
The Panther Foundation, an organization that funds creative and innovate projects and grants to benefit students in Spring Lake Park School District 16, has announced three fund-raising events.
The foundation has awarded nearly $500,000 in funds to the district since its inception in 2004.
The group’s mission is to enhance the education of all students, empower innovations and to bridge the community, staff and students.
The following Panther Foundation fund-raisers are slated for this year:
• Eighth annual “Hear the Roar” Gala, Feb. 25, Tournament Players Club (TPC) of the Twin Cities.
• Second annual foundation and Blaine Ham Lake Rotary Club Golf Tournament, June 18, TPC of the Twin Cities.
• Second annual 5K Walk/Run and Family Celebration, Sept. 29, SLP High School campus and surrounding area.
Next month’s gala features a dinner, and a live and silent auction. Registration for the event began Jan. 23. Tickets are $110. Auction-only tickets start at $25.
“There are only a limited number of tickets available,” said Colleen Pederson, director of community education.
Many auction-only tickets, however, are still available. For ticket information, visit www.pantherfoundation.org.
The Panther Foundation grants and special projects allow students unique opportunities beyond what the district’s general fund budget affords, according to Chris Hasling, chairman of the foundation board.
Foundation funds also give teachers a chance to generate creative activities and pass enhanced opportunities onto the students, he said.
Grants can range anywhere from $200 to $8,000, he said.
Among special projects, the foundation has matched district funds to bring smart boards to about one-half of the classrooms in the district’s K-5 schools.(Half of the classrooms already had smart boards.)
Another project funded book purchases for the district libraries.
Foundation grants have paid for anything from the partial start-up funding for the district’s first robotics team to a student project last year in which students built two canoes.
Another grant also purchased a class set of iTouches to allow freshmen students at SLP High School an opportunity to solve math problems in small groups. They learned “in an innovative way as opposed to text book or paper (and pencil),” Hasling said in an interview with the Life.
One of the biggest financial goals of the foundation is growth, Hasling said.
Currently, the organization has an endowment fund of about $50,000, assets set aside not to be touched and to generate income, he said.
“I think the students are getting an incredible benefit from the foundation,” Hasling said. The creativity it spurs brings opportunity to the classrooms, he said.
The Panther Foundation has an annual membership ranging anywhere from 215 to 280 people. Eighteen volunteers serve on the board of directors. Hasling, an alumnus of SLP High School, has served as a board director for five years and is in his second year as chairman.
“I would encourage all alumni to consider giving back to the school, the district,” he said. “I think the foundation is the best way to do that.”
The foundation is seeking cash donations or items for its upcoming silent auction for the “Hear the Roar” Gala.
One can become a member of the Panther Foundation for a donation of $25, $50 or $100 or whatever amount he or she chooses.
For more information, call Colleen Pederson at 763-785-5533.
Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]