OKCPS Foundation working for OKC students
The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools is one of many community partners that work every day to improve the lives of children within Oklahoma City. The Foundation has been deeply and remains committed to its mission of change in the OKCPS district.
The Foundation and its donors made headlines last year when they brought 33 STEM centers into each OKCPS elementary school through a partnership with the district and the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. The organization is also a key part of the OKC Schools Compact and oversees the ReadOKC program, a program that increases literacy levels throughout the district.
Additionally, the Foundation has five core programs that allow them to increase their support of the district: supporting teachers, classrooms and students through Donors Choose; increasing community engagement through Partners in Action; increasing English language learning programs; focusing on teacher and leader professional development; and education advocacy.
DonorsChoose is used to directly support classroom projects like funding field trips or purchasing supplies for a learning activity. In 2019, DonorsChoose funded more than 2,000 projects with a total financial impact of $1.2 million within the district’s classrooms.
Partners in Action strives to connect the district with community partners and is similar in structure to DonorsChoose with a few key differences. The Partners in Action programs are principal driven and are related to school-wide strategic needs--so providing coats for every child or fundraising for snacks and water during state testing. More than 47 new community partners funded nearly 300 projects through Partners in Action last year, totaling $10.6 million in financial impact for the district.
To support the evolving needs of the district, which is 54 percent Hispanic, the Foundation funds beginner and intermediate Spanish classes for staff members who want to learn to better communicate with students and their families. The Foundation also partners with the Community Literacy Center to provide ESL classes for students’ families at 15 schools. The Foundation funds childcare for families attending these evening classes to support participation and the continued engagement in the education system by all families.
Another way the foundation supports the diversity of the district while providing professional development opportunities is through the Bilingual Teacher Pipeline Project (BTPP). BTPP provides financial and academic support to 59 Spanish-speaking paraprofessionals who are earning their teaching certification. Recently, BTPP celebrated the milestone of its first two graduates of the program who will now become full-time teachers in the district.
The Foundation also recently launched the Diversity Pipeline Program, which gives OKCPS paraprofessionals of color the chance to finish college and earn their teaching certificates debt-free while staying employed full time. In its first year, the program attracted 11 participants. The Urban Teacher Preparation Academy rounds out the Foundation’s professional development initiatives. This partnership with the University of Oklahoma provides valuable tools to prepare firstyear teachers for the challenges in an urban school environment. Last year, the UPTA helped 41 new teachers establish themselves in their careers.