For 13 years, the Lynbrook Excellence in Education Foundation was dormant. In 2018, however, district parents revived it in order to bolster Lynbrook students’ education, raising $11,200 last year that will be distributed to Lynbrook Public Schools in the form of grants, and the group’s leaders are now looking to expand on that success this year.
The funds, which were raised through individual donations, will enhance classroom instruction. The period to apply for a foundation grant runs until March 2. District educators and student groups are eligible to apply. More information can be found at www.lynbrookef.org.
Ivy Reilly, the nonprofit’s president, was instrumental in restoring the foundation after it disbanded in 2005. “I saw that the Lynbrook School District has so much to offer and the teachers have so much to offer, but I wanted to give teachers more of an opportunity to do more,” Reilly said. “Education shouldn’t have a limit, and anything we can do to improve that is great.”
Reilly moved to Lynbrook five years ago with her husband, Thomas, and two children, Eric, now 12 and a seventh-grader at Lynbrook South Middle School, and Alexa, 9, a fourth-grader at Marion Street Elementary School. When Eric was in second grade and began playing the oboe and violin, Reilly said, she was happy to discover that he had musical talent, and that the school district had a strong music program. She wanted to get more involved in her children’s education.
After attending several Board of Education meetings, at which she met district officials, Reilly decided to resurrect the education foundation and took on the role of president.
“My children were given opportunities that I never thought they would have in Lynbrook schools,” she said. “I love children and my children so much that I wanted to take it a step further by taking up this project to raise money to enhance their educational opportunities even more.”
Past grants, in the early 2000s, funded staff development training, special projects, programs, lectures and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) initiatives, either districtwide or at individual schools.
For Joe Gallo, who joined the foundation board last month, being a member is his way of getting more involved in the community he has lived in for seven years. With an 18-month-old son at home, Gallo said that through his involvement in the foundation, he hoped he could help Lynbrook schools innovate so his son can receive the best education possible when he attends school.
“At some point, my son will join the school district, and I want the schools to have tools that elevate students to prepare them for college,” he said. “I hope that in 2020 we will be able to improve and grow as a foundation.”
In 2020, Reilly and Gallo said, the foundation plans to reach out to businesses to aid with fundraising. Reilly said she hoped to raise $100,000 this year.
“I think that any [amount] of money we can bring in that can be given back to our kids through our teachers is a fine success,” she said. “. . . It’s very hard to make money when there are so many other worthy charities in our communities that we want to give to. Our goal is to reach out to more businesses, but we currently do not have enough volunteers, which has made it harder.’
Foundation Vice President Adam Callahan agreed that working with businesses would be key. “We’ve been struggling to come up with a plan to get businesses involved in the foundation,” Callahan said. “We need more help internally, and we need local businesses to step up and help. We just have to figure out how.”