We are in that time of giving thanks and giving gifts. Those two ideas come together when describing the Sleepy Eye Education Foundation.

We are in that time of giving thanks and giving gifts. Those two ideas come together when describing the Sleepy Eye Education Foundation. The organization has been quietly accepting donations for the benefit of Sleepy Eye Public School and its graduates since 2001. The idea that maybe the foundation is too quiet came up at the organization’s board meeting this month.

“We want to be sure the community and school alumni know about the Sleepy Eye Education Foundation,” said Dave Vosbeck, president of the foundation board. The purpose of the foundation is to provide scholarships to students and also support school projects and programs not funded through the school district’s operating budget.

Treasurer, Michel Anderson-Lowther, provided a bit of history on the foundation. She said in 2001 community members and businesses were interested in having AutoCAD software for the Industrial Arts department at Sleepy Eye High School and donations were received to provide it. “This led to the decision to form the Sleepy Eye Education Foundation as a 501c3 organization so donations would be tax-deductible,” she explained. “We made our first mini-grants to school departments in 2003 and our first scholarship was awarded in 2004.”

Over the years since the foundation was formed, in addition to awarding scholarships directly from foundation funds, it has also administered scholarships established by other entities. Some of these are the Speckman Family Scholarship, the Anonymous Farmers scholarships, the Sue Windschitl scholarship, the Class of 1964 scholarship and others.

While scholarships remain an important focus for the foundation, Anderson-Lowther said the board decided it is also important to dream big to benefit students at the school. “One thing that has been needed for decades at Sleepy Eye Public School is a performing arts space with good acoustics and seating that is audience friendly,” she said. “This is in the vision stage, but we feel that many of our graduates and other community members would be interested in supporting such an idea.”

The foundation has established a fund for a performing arts center to give focus to this need. Only donations specifically designated for the project will be put in this fund. Other donations will continue to be used for scholarships or curriculum needs according to the wishes of the donors.

For those interested in establishing special scholarships through the foundation, Anderson-Lowther suggested contacting Dave Vosbeck for more information.

Donations to the Sleepy Eye Education Foundation can be mailed to 400 4th Ave. SW (the school address) and are directed to Sandy Brinkman and Pat Stevermer in the Community Education office. Brinkman and Stevermer are the main foundation contact people at the school and can help find answers to questions about the foundation.

A gift to the Sleepy Eye Education Foundation, for scholarships, curriculum needs, or even a performing arts center, is a way to give thanks for the education and school activities enjoyed in the past and a way to help shape the future success of Sleepy Eye Public Schools.