Shawnee Mission Foundation gives district $20,000 unrestricted

The Shawnee Mission Education Foundation (SMEF) has given a $20,000 unrestricted grant to the Shawnee Mission School District. The money can be used in the general fund or for any purpose the school district chooses. This is the second year for an unrestricted contribution from the foundation to the district.

Dr. Jim Hinson, Shawnee Mission superintendent, accepts a check from René Gillespie, SMEF board president.
Dr. Jim Hinson, Shawnee Mission superintendent, accepts a check from René Gillespie, SMEF board president.

The foundation, established in 1989, has provided a variety of grants for projects and programs in the district and awarded scholarships to both teachers and students. Grants are usually directed at specific district initiatives or events or fund specific classroom enhancements. SMEF also has funds that have been established as sustainable revenue to support programs in the arts, early childhood education and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math.

Since it began awarding funds in 1993, the foundation has given $624,000 in teacher grants, $283,000 in scholarships and $2.5 million in program grants.

The largest grant from the foundation was $303,400 to upgrade library collections and add technology in 2008-09. It has funded a number of technology purchases over the years. The first was a Polaroid camera in 1993.

In recent years the district has been forced to make substantial budget cuts from its general fund as a result of state funding shortfalls and restrictions on the amounts the district can raise locally.

“The Foundation represents the voice of those who support excellence in education and we are proud to contribute to the work of the district,” said Rene Gillespie, president of the SMEF board.

“We appreciate the continued partnership of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation,” said Superintendent Jim Hinson.  “The Foundation is an important and valued partner helping the district meet the needs of students.”