Upcoming luncheon to highlight foundation's efforts

When the Lake Washington Schools Foundation hosts its fourth annual “Legacy for Learning Luncheon” on May 13, the organization will highlight programs in the Lake Washington School District that are funded and supported by private donations – a trend in K-12 education that has grown to over 6,000 public school foundations across the country.

Following a model long used in higher education and private schools, foundations support programs with dollars, time, and expertise that go beyond what tax revenues can fund.

Even in the best of times, a successful school foundation can play a critical role in bringing a community together for its local schools. As an advocate for educational excellence, the Lake Washington Schools Foundation raises funds, gathers resources and acts as a catalyst to involve the community in the education of 24,000 students in 49 schools in Redmond, Kirkland and Sammamish.

Audubon Elementary in Redmond was one recipient of 41 Classroom and School Enrichment Grants awarded this year by the foundation. The school’s sustainable garden and greenhouse provide a living laboratory for all grade levels to study ecological systems, plant growth, food production and nutrition. Teacher Susanna Stutzman requested the funds from the Lake Washington Schools Foundation.

“It’s allowed us to let the kids literally get their hands dirty in learning - which we find is so much more engaging and memorable and effective”, she said. “As teachers, we’re moving away from asking ourselves ‘Did I teach this?’ and instead we are asking ourselves ‘Did the kids learn it?’ By bringing kids out to the greenhouse, we are finding that the kids are learning it.”

At Rose Hill Elementary in Kirkland, the after-school science club enriches the curriculum through additional investigation into the topics covered in school. The Lake Washington Schools Foundation granted funds for materials used in the program.

The Lake Washington Schools Foundation has awarded more than $323,000 to programs in the district since it was founded in 2005. In addition to the Classroom and School Enrichment Grants, the foundation helps low-income students defray the costs of attending school through the Access Fund; grants funds for secondary science education through the Science Enrichment Initiative; supports new teachers through the New Teacher Grants program; and funds LINKS, the volunteer and mentoring program of the Lake Washington School District.

The “Legacy for Learning Luncheon” is on Wednesday, May 13 at Juanita High School, 10601 NE 132nd St., Kirkland. Keynote speaker is NASA Astronaut George “Pinky” Nelson, currently Western Washington University’s Director of Science, Math and Technology Education. He has led the work of the North Cascades and Olympics Science Partnership, a joint effort between WWU, local community colleges and 28 school districts to improve the way science is taught in Washington schools.

For more information, visit or contact luncheon co-chair Carolyn Vaché at

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