Save the Date: Lakewood City School’s Powerhouse Partner, LREF, Celebrates Excellence at August Gala

Save the Date: Lakewood City School’s Powerhouse Partner, LREF, Celebrates Excellence at August Gala

By Terri Richards and Robin Suttell

Although many in in the community don’t realize it, The Lakewood Rangers Education Foundation (LREF) has quietly been enriching the school experience for students in grades K-12 for more than 30 years.

LREF grew out of the merger between two organizations -- the Lakewood Alumni Association and the Lakewood Schools Foundation. Today, LREF, a stand-alone, not-for-profit foundation, distributes thousands of dollars each year to support enrichment opportunities for more than 5,400 Lakewood students in all 10 of the city’s schools. This included support for the 15-year construction initiative that resulted in new school buildings district-wide.

With the construction wrapping up at the final building, Lakewood High School, the Lakewood Rangers Education Foundation is seizing the opportunity to encourage the Lakewood community to look to the future and continue their support to students by providing them with the opportunities that makes the city school district among the best in Ohio.

To kick off these sustaining efforts, LREF will hold its first Purple and Gold Gala at LHS on Saturday, Aug.19. with a goal of raising $60,000. Four-hundred attendees will have an exclusive first look at the school’s newly completed east wing spaces, while enjoying delicious food, beverages, entertainment, silent and live auctions and more. It will be the Lakewood party of the summer! All proceeds from the evening will serve the Lakewood community's most important asset, its school children.

The foundation’s efforts won’t stop with the gala. In recent years, education foundations have become welcome partners for public school districts nationwide. In fact, Lakewood City Schools was one of the pioneers in recognizing that districts needed to supplement public funding in order to provide the 'extras' that families have expect as part of a high-quality public education.

From scholarships, teachers grants and backing for the district’s excellent music program to support for the many Lakewood City Schools alumni, LREF has served as a valued and welcome partner in the district’s quality education programming.

Initially, the foundation's focused on accepting donations from alumni, friends and former school staff and distributing those funds as scholarships and program support. Many of those funds still exist and continue to generate annual awards. But LREF has become much more of a partner to Lakewood City schools in the face of ever-shrinking and restrictive government funding.

Through the years, the foundation’s activities have evolved to include active fundraising through an annual fund and events, such as the new Purple and Gold Gala. These efforts support a growing list of programs that touch the educational experience of every Lakewood student. The foundation serves to bridge the gap between public funding and district needs to provide the educational enrichment opportunities that every child in our school district deserves. 

The programs that LREF has funded in full or in part though endowed funds or its annual fund include: teacher grants for innovative classroom projects; Future Club, serving about 350 students in middle and elementary schools; Model United Nations and Academic Challenge; a College Now Counselor at LHS; One Book, One School; Harrison School Play-A-Day; musical instrument rent-to-own program for middle and high school students; the College Credit Plus program; scoreboards for Harding and Garfield Middle Schools; Great Lakes Theater Program Residency at LHS; Camp Can-Do; Middle School Soccer Club; Tech Soup and Future Connections; 4th grade Cleveland Orchestra experience; music lesson scholarships; LHS Girls Track team participation in University of Akron clinics; and more.

This lengthy list doesn’t even cover all that LREF offers to Lakewood City Schools. And, the foundation also continues to support and engage alumni by maintaining a database, assisting with reunions, providing tours of LHS and maintaining historical archives. And all requires community support to keep these programs alive.

For more information on the Lakewood Ranger Education Foundation or to follow details on the Purple and Gold Gala as they are released in the coming months, visit the  LREF website, www.lakewoodrangers.com or like LREF on Facebook.

terri richards

Terri Richards, Executive Director, Lakewood Rangers Education Foundation

Robin Suttell, Account Supervisor at Falls Communications; Marketing & Publicity Chair, Purple & Gold Gala 2017

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Volume 13, Issue 4, Posted 6:40 PM, 02.21.2017