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Group mines additional resources for CCA students

Foundation seeks to expand its charitable support role with paid position
Jeffrey Ritchie, president, CCA Foundation. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

North Liberty Leader
OXFORD– Since 1986, the CCA Foundation has provided financial support to the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Community School District. The purpose of the Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, is “to maintain, develop, increase and expand the facilities and services of the district thus providing broader educational opportunities to students, community residents and staff.” The group hosts fundraising events and actively solicits donations from patrons and alumni of the district.
The Foundation has distributed over $100,000 in scholarships from the annual golf outing, which has been the organization’s primary fundraiser for over a decade.
“We give a fair share of our proceeds from that every year (to scholarships), and we serve as a pass-through for businesses or individuals who want a tax deduction or to donate on an annual basis for scholarships. So, we facilitate that process,” said Foundation President Jeffrey Ritchie.
On average per year, the Foundation gives out $5,000-6,000 from its own funds, with an additional $10,000 in pass-through funding for a total of $15,000-16,000 disbursed in scholarships to each batch of graduating CCA seniors.
Thirteen people comprise the Foundation, headed up by Ritchie and Vice President Dan Steines. Ronda Detlefsen is the treasurer. Foundation members include Bev Seelman and former school board member T.J. Crocco, both of whom have been with the organization from its inception in 1986.
“It’s nice to have them on there with us to remind us of some of the historical things that have been done,” Ritchie said.
Also on the Foundation are CCA Middle School Principal Brad Fox, Larry Pacha, Margaret Trumpold, Karolyn Trumpold, Elaine Watson, District Superintendent Tim Kuehl, and former school board members Rick Hergert and Aimee Pitlick. Current school board members Matt McAreavy and Eileen Schmidt serve as liaisons between the school and the Foundation; they are not voting members of the Foundation but attend meetings and provide input.
The Foundation also hopes to add a part-time paid position in the near future in a joint venture with the district. While Kuehl would like a communications director for the district, the Foundation wants somebody to promote the organization and coordinate fundraising. The solution is in a three-fourths-time position shared between the district and the Foundation. The CCA School Board of Directors approved hiring for the $40,000 position with interviews scheduled for the week of July 10. The plan is for the successful candidate to begin work on Aug. 1.
The position is modeled after the College Community School District’s (Cedar Rapids Prairie) Community Relations Director, shared between the district and its foundation. Steve Doser has filled that role since 2005 and was the annual fund director for six years prior at Cornell College.
“They are distributing somewhere around $60,000 and $70,000 each year to their schools from fundraising efforts,” said Ritchie. He acknowledged it would take a while to get to a similar level of funding for CCA, but the Foundation hopes to replicate College Community’s efforts. “We all said, ‘That’s what we want to do,’” he added.

A driving factor for increasing charitable donations, Ritchie said, is ongoing concerns with state and federal education funding.
“As the state budgets and federal funding all tighten up for school support, you’ve got to have that foundation there that could potentially generate the funds to make up for those shortfalls,” he explained.
This realization has lead to a shift in the Foundation’s efforts to do more for students currently enrolled, and not just provide scholarships for those graduating.
“We really aren’t helping the kids while they’re in the schools,” Ritchie shared. “We’re distributing most of our funds out to people who have already graduated out. So, the goal is, how do we get this to a different level where we could actually start benefitting the schools on an annual basis?”
Vital to achieving that goal, Ritchie said, is having a staff member– even if only for 10 hours per week– dedicated to fundraising.
But, with other personnel needs across the district, such as additional guidance counselors, teachers and other administrative support, it’s been difficult for Kuehl to add a communications person.
“He (Kuehl) told us it was a no-go, because he was looking at a full-time position,” Ritchie said. The compromise is a position at 30 hours per week.
One-third of the base salary will be paid, at least for the first year, by the Foundation. In return, the person will spend 10 hours per week on Foundation business. However, there will necessarily be some ebb and flow leading up to the district trying to pass a $36 million bond referendum in September and the new hire working to disseminate information regarding the proposed projects. Likewise, the person will likely devote a bit more time to the Foundation next spring ahead of the golf outing.
Further down the road, Ritchie envisions the Foundation being in a position to allocate dollars annually to each school building on a per-pupil basis. This follows College Community’s model, which replaced a grant application process. While the middle school and high school would likely receive more Foundation money under such a model, Ritchie notes neither building has a Parent-Teacher Group (PTG), unlike the four elementaries.
In addition to the PTGs, the district has the athletic booster club and FAME (Fine Arts and Music Enhancers), which raise additional funds for their programs. Ritchie does not see the Foundation in competition for donation dollars with these other groups, but rather as another avenue, one that as a 501(c)(3) is able to offer tax deductions for contributions. With allocations to be based on the number of students in a building, Ritchie sees the PTGs as a vital source of additional funds for each elementary.
“I think we’ll hit a different target group than the PTGss, although we will be doing an annual giving drive with letters going out to all of the families in the district,” he said. “But again, our focus will be on people looking for a charitable tax deduction. If you donate to us, and you’ve got kids in the district, they’re gonna benefit by your tax-deductible donation.”

Any level of financial support is welcomed, as evidenced by the football toss at Friday night home football games the past two seasons. Participants purchase a chance at a prize by tossing small footballs at a barrel in a “boat” provided by Steines, who owns Big Country Seeds in Tiffin.
“We don’t raise a lot of funds, but it gets our name out there,” said Ritchie. “People realize now that we exist.”
All net proceeds from the football toss went directly into scholarships.
“I believe this year there were three, earmarked ‘Big Country Seeds-Clear Creek Amana Foundation Scholarship,’” Ritchie added.
While not a fundraising event, the Foundation also has the CCA Hall of Fame with inductees recognized either at a home football or basketball game. The Hall of Fame was started in 2001 to honor those who have made “lasting or significant contributions” to the district and/or the community.
The Foundation scholarships are available to any graduating senior who is pursuing post-secondary education in some form, be it vocational training, a two-year college or a four-year college or university. Those interested fill out a form asking about their academics, community involvement and athletic involvement. A short essay is also required of the applicant, as is a brief written recommendation from a CCA faculty member of their choosing.
“The Foundation’s position has been that anybody who applies, and takes the time to complete the form, and is wanting to go on to further their education, we’re going to give them some support,” said Ritchie.
The amount awarded varies depending on how much money is available and how many requests are submitted. For example, 20 $300 scholarships ($6,000 in Foundation money) were awarded in the past year, Ritchie said. Other scholarships were also given out with donations from other sources, such as businesses, he added, to the tune of approximately $10,000.
“The Foundation is a huge asset to the district,” said Kuehl. “Historically they have provided a tremendous number of scholarship opportunities to our students. It sounds like they are hoping to be able to provide direct benefit to the instructional experience of our students, especially at the middle school and high – where Parent-Teacher groups are less prevalent– in the future. That contribution will allow us to provide things that might not otherwise be possible with the declining funding from the state.”

For more information:
On the web: www.ccaschools.org/index.php/community/cca-foundation
Email: ccafoundation@ccaschools.org
Mailing address: CCA Foundation. PO Box 30, Oxford, IA 52322-0030