Frequently Asked Questions
Q: WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE FOUNDATION?
A: The Foundation’s purpose is to attract, house and distribute private gifts of cash, securities and property to and for the exclusive use of the students of Farmington Public Schools.
Q: WHO IS INVOLVED IN DIRECTING THE FOUNDATION?
A: It is directed by a group of private citizens (trustees) representing many aspects of the area’s business, cultural, civic and educational leadership. Our Foundation also has a volunteer Executive Director responsible for managing the day-to-day activities of the Foundation.
Q: IS THE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND ADMINISTRATION INVOLVED?
A: Yes. The superintendent and the president of the Board of Education sit as permanent, ex-officio trustees. However, the vast majority of the trustees are not directly connected with the school district except as citizens interested and committed to the betterment of public education.
Q: WHAT TYPES OF THINGS DOES THE FOUNDATION FUND?
A: The trustees have selected four (4) primary areas of interest:
- Scholastic Achievement
- The Arts
- Extracurricular Enrichment
The Foundation, however, is not limited to the above areas and may pursue major projects such as significant capital improvements and/or other large purchases in the future.
Q: WILL THESE GIFTS REDUCE THE TAXPAYERS’ OBLIGATION TO THE SCHOOLS?
A: No. The Foundation’s mission is to supplement, augment and complement the basic school program by providing new educational opportunities that would not otherwise be available except through private resources.
Q: WHO DECIDES WHAT PROJECTS AND PROGRAMS THE FOUNDATION WILL SUPPORT?
A: Essentially, the trustees will decide what is to be funded. Donors to the Foundation, however, may direct their contributions to specific areas. In addition, the Board of Education has the final legal say in accepting or rejecting any gift from the Foundation.
Q: HOW DOES THE FOUNDATION RAISE ITS FUNDS?
A: Funds are raised from individuals, corporations and other organizations. However, the methods used by the Foundation to attract private resources are not those commonly used by other school and school-related groups. Generally, the Foundation will be seeking substantial contributions for specific projects and programs. The Foundation also will attract individual donations from outside of the district in the form of individual contributions from Farmington Public School alumni, major corporations and regional and national foundations.
Q: ARE THERE ANY ASSURANCES THAT THE FOUNDATION WILL USE ITS FUNDS AS INTENDED AND WILL NOT LOSE FUNDS THROUGH RISKY INVESTMENTS?
A: Yes. First, the Foundation is a non-profit corporation chartered by the State of Michigan and subject to guidelines covering fundraising activities. Second, this corporation is granted exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue code and subject to further reporting requirements and rules covering such things as annual distributions, jeopardy investments, conflicts of interest, restricted funds, etc.
Q: ARE ALL DONATIONS TAX DEDUCTIBLE?
A: Donations are “eligible for tax deduction” in most all cases. Some tax payers file the Form 1040 short form and since 1986 have not been permitted to deduct charitable contributions. Generally, however, a tax deduction can be taken for up to 50% of an individual’s annual adjusted gross income. The Farmington/Farmington Hills Education is a non-profit organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code.
Q: WILL THE FOUNDATION SPEND ALL THAT IT RAISES OR WILL IT SAVE MONEY FOR THE FUTURE?
A: The Foundation board has pledged to grant 100% of the Charter Donor Campaign Proceeds. Eventually, the Foundation will attract major gifts from wills, trusts, real estate, life insurance, etc., and be able to create an endowment fund that will continuously provide resources to the schools without relying on current fund raising.
Q: WILL OTHER SCHOOL-RELATED GROUPS SUCH AS PTAs BE INVOLVED WITH THE FOUNDATION?
A: Yes. The Foundation is not intended to replace PTA/PTSAs, booster clubs, etc., and in some cases collaborative projects can be developed with the Foundation. The Foundation will also form a parent advisory panel to review and communicate Foundation goals and objectives.
Q: CAN THE FOUNDATION GIVE FUNDS TO PRIVATE SCHOOLS OR OTHER ORGANIZATIONS?
A: No. Under its state charter and federal exemption, the Foundation may only give funds to support Farmington Public Schools.
Q: WHAT WILL IT COST TO ADMINISTER THE FOUNDATION?
A: Very little. Since the Foundation initially has no paid staff, 100% of Charter Donor Campaign funds collected is expected to directly benefit the teachers and students of the District. Board members donated the initial contributions to cover the cost of the Charter Donor Campaign and basic start-up and administrative costs.
Q: WHY DO WE NEED THE FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS EDUCATION FOUNDATION?
A: Foundations in support of public education are a growing phenomenon throughout the country. In Michigan and elsewhere, school budgets are being trimmed to the bone, often eliminating the programming that encourages excellence and prepares students adequately for the workplace of today and tomorrow.
Private resources can play an important role in providing new and important opportunities for learning and teaching. In addition, in areas such as technology, the private sector is in the best position to provide funds and in-kind gifts to help keep students on the cutting edge.
Q: CAN’T WE SIMPLY GIVE DIRECTLY TO THE SCHOOLS WITHOUT BOTHERING WITH A FOUNDATION?
A: Yes. However, the Foundation provides the most protected vehicle for making donations. Its exempt status allows the maximum amount of individual tax deduction. Many businesses and other organizations will not give to public entities without this qualifying status. Private foundations are somewhat restricted in giving to public schools, but are not restricted from giving to other foundations. In addition, the Foundation provides a “focus for support” by clearly stating the needs to be addressed and focusing on the businesses, individuals and organizations most likely to support such needs.
Q: HOW DOES THE EDUCATION FOUNDATION DIFFER FROM THE FARMINGTON/FARMINGOTN HILLS FOUNDATION for YOUTH & FAMILIES?
A: The Farmington/Farmington Hills Foundation for Youth & Families serves the needs of our community through their philanthropic grant programs. Their leadership in the Backpack Program, providing nutritious food for the weekend to children in need, and their financial support of community’s after school youth programs have benefited our community greatly.
The Education Foundation will support educational programs in Farmington Public Schools. Creating a separate Foundation for the schools allows us to focus efforts on education priorities. We will work collaboratively with the Foundation for Youth & Families on projects that benefit students. Our Superintendent of Schools, Sue Zurvalec, serves on the board of both organizations, ensuring coordination between these two vitally important organizations.