Beaumont Public School Foundation celebrates 20 years

Beaumont City Attorney Tyrone Cooper, Judge Lupe Flores and former mayor of Beau

The Beaumont Public School Foundation Inc. (BPSF) recently celebrated its 20th year of serving the staff and students of the Beaumont Independent School District (BISD). In honor of the anniversary, BPSF honored charter members at the BPSF Annual Meeting on Friday, May 24, hosted by Sallie Curtis Elementary at 6225 N. Circuit in Beaumont.

City leaders honored BPSF for two decades of service to the community. The Beaumont City Council declared March 18-22, 2013, “Beaumont Public Schools Foundation Inc. Week” in celebration of the anniversary. March 21 at its monthly board meeting, the BISD Board of Trustees honored the foundation with a plaque and congratulated BPSF for 20 years of service to the staff and students of BISD.

Before the annual meeting and presentation last week, members of the group got to take a close look at the school on a tour guided by fifth grade students including Mae Guidry, Alexandra McCall and Morgan Williams.

Former mayor of Beaumont Evelyn Lord, Beaumont City Attorney Tyrone Cooper and Judge Lupe Flores, all charter members, were honored during the meeting, and BPSF President Shirlene Cook presented each of them with glass apples and plaques commemorating their 20 years of service to the foundation. 

“We would not be having this meeting if it were not for the people who brought this organization together,” Cook said as she presented each with their award. “So it is fitting that on our 20th-year celebration, we would like to thank our charter members for organizing such a group that has benefited the school district for twenty years.”

“I think the whole concentration of the city at that time was on education and the problems with youth,” Lord, who was mayor of Beaumont when the organization was founded in 1993, said. “That is why three things started: the Evelyn M. Lord Teen Court Program, the Beaumont Public Schools Foundation, and Communities in Schools. They are all celebrating 20 years and we (Lord, Cooper and Flores) were in all three of them. They were all aimed at helping kids.”

“We have raised a lot of money over the years,” Flores said of BPSF. “Everything that we do is geared strictly to giving awards to teachers and students. It’s basically stuff that the school district does not provide.”

Flores said the foundation has provided items, and even animals when requested, through grants distributed during Grant Caravan events twice a year.

Teachers at some BISD schools have worked diligently with their students on grants for projects not funded by the district. Cooper said teachers are responsible for the grant-writing skills of their students.

“The teachers are amazing grant-writers,” Cooper said of educators who have received grants in the past and passed on their knowledge to students.

The foundation was formed in 1993 by a group of education advocates who had a vision of forming an organization that would support the district as it strives for academic excellence. Within six weeks, the BPSF was formed with an elected Board of Directors. They developed a mission statement, applied for nonprofit status, adopted bylaws, and began soliciting funds to feed the endowment, which in turn funds BISD educational grants.

The mission of the foundation is to fund grants for projects to enhance teaching and learning in the Beaumont Independent School District and to receive and administer gifts for other educational purposes for BISD students. The BPSF primarily gives grants to promote innovative classroom learning.

The BPSF also administers three memorial scholarships: the Joan Nathan Gross Graphic Arts Scholarship, the John Hodges Memorial Scholarship, and the Eleanor J. Briggs Memorial Scholarship.

After hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the foundation donated $4,000 to purchase clothing and school supplies for students adversely affected by these storms. In addition, it served as the repository for funds donated by community organizations for recovery.

A board of 42 directors chosen from the diverse Beaumont community governs the foundation. Over half of the members have served six or more years, and 11 of the members are charter members. An Advisory Council of 21 members supports the Board of Directors. The foundation employs a full-time executive director to work with the district in promoting the organization’s mission.

Over the last 20 years, the foundation has awarded grants of more than $188,800 to 296 BISD staff and students and scholarships of $53,000 to 79 students. The BPSF accepts donations from individuals, corporations and family trusts. The board also holds two fundraisers each year, the BPSF Fiesta Breakfast in the fall and a golf tournament in early June. Monies generated from the fundraisers support the grants program. The foundation’s Endowment Fund ensures the grants program is available for generations of BISD staff and students.

BPSF Charter Members are Johnny Atkins, Bessie Chisum, Tyrone Cooper, Judge Lupe Flores, George Hudspeth, Benny Hughes, Evelyn Lord, Joy James, Bonnie Madden and Clayton Mayfield.