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Potsdam Educational Opportunities Fund gets another challenge grant

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POTSDAM — School staff here could have even more items checked off their wish lists if community members contribute to a $50,000 match grant to the Potsdam Educational Opportunities Fund.

The money, which came from a couple who wishes to remain anonymous, is in addition to the $100,000 challenge made previously, which already has been met.

“It’s kind of last-minute, but this is the time of year they look at what they’ll be doing with the match,” said Rande S. Richardson, executive director of the Northern New York Community Foundation, which administers the fund on behalf of Potsdam Central School District. “I think it’s part of rewarding the group for their good work, and comes at a time when people are making year-end gifts. If they’re successful by the end of the year, they’ll have $300,000 in their fund and in a two-year time period. That’s something to be quite proud of.”

All gifts made to the Potsdam Educational Opportunities Fund by Dec. 31 will be matched two-to-one by the anonymous couple.

“They’ve done extremely well, and really created a model for other schools to follow,” Mr. Richardson said. “The facility and staff are the ones who submit proposals to use the earnings on the fund. The importance of this is it’s meant to enhance educational opportunities for students, not to offset regular budgetary” items.

A school-based committee makes recommendations, which then are finalized by the Community Foundation’s board of directors.

The same anonymous couple, who once attended Potsdam Central School, donated $200,000 last year, split up as a $100,000 challenge grant to the Potsdam Educational Opportunities Fund and a general $100,000 grant to the Potsdam Fund for Education. The latter may support the Potsdam Educational Opportunities Fund.

“With the loss of state aid we have faced over the last five years, it has been important to look for additional funding opportunities,” said Patrick Brady, Potsdam Central superintendent. The fund “has been important in not only providing this support, but also presenting a long-term outlet for alumni to give back to their school.”

Funds already raised have been used to bring guest speakers, Smartboards, iPads, positive cafeteria materials and workshops to the district.

According to a Community Foundation news release, the Opportunities Fund was established in 2012.

To contribute toward the $50,000 challenge grant, call the foundation at 782-7110, or send a check made payable to “Northern New York Community Foundation,” with “PEOF challenge grant” in the memo line, to NNYCF, 120 Washington St., Suite 400, Watertown, N.Y. 13601.

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