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New Ridgefield Education Foundation Plans For Future

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – It’s not the first Education Foundation that Ridgefield has had, but the parents who have spent the last year setting it up hope it will be the one that sticks around.

Part of how they plan to do that is by funding projects that expand the horizons of the Ridgefield students. For example, Liza Shaban, librarian at Veterans Park Elementary School, asked for funding to set up Skype interviews between authors and students.

For the last year, Ridgefield moms Jennifer Rose-Dilaura and Avery Costigan have been working with others in the community to build a system and foundation that will fund creative grants.

“Money is tight everywhere,” said Rose-Dilaura, vice president of the foundation. “There is so much that is dictated in the new state standards but that isn’t funded.”

The foundation has had only one grant season since starting, but the projects that came in were exactly what the members were hoping to fund.

“We’re starting slow but with a very specific purpose,” said Costigan, foundation president. “What we’re looking to fund is projects that are creative, innovative and collaborative. We are looking as more of a district and community role. We want to be the research and design element for the district, and we want to fund project that will move education forward.”

According to Costigan, they are looking for “projects that are looking at the more global” environment in which children are growing up.

The foundation is sponsoring a basketball game on Oct. 19 between Ridgefield schools faculty and the Harlem Wizards

The foundation isn’t meant to replace the PTAs at each school. Instead, it is designed to supplement and be a tool for teachers across the district, Costigan and Rose-Dilaura said. The foundation will not provide supplement funding for line items in the school’s budget. It won't pay salaries or purchase textbooks, for example.

They are still working to obtain 501(c)(3) status, which would make it a nonprofit and able to search for grants and become a third-party provider of funds because many corporate funds can’t be given directly to smaller projects.

“We want what would work for our community,” Rose-Dilaura said. Costigan said the foundation is in it for the long term, “to do what is right for our community” at any given time.

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