With public dollars becoming increasingly harder to come by, a few former Birmingham parents decided to take matters in their own hand, donating a total of $32,500 in the form of endowments and support funds to the (BEF) to support the aquatic programs at and .
At Seaholm, Birmingham residents David and Susan Priestley began working with the BEF in 2011 to create an endowment for Seaholm's aquatics program. With two Birmingham graduates active in water sports, creating an endowment provided the Priestley's the opportunity, they said, to support the district in a way that was meaningful to them.
“Our sons received great educations, and had tremendously positive experiences as varsity athletes in swimming and water polo,” David Priestely said. “With school funding being tight and cuts to athletic programs a real possibility, we wanted to ensure some financial support to Seaholm aquatic sports for the long run.”
Soon after their initial donation, the Priestleys were joined by Bob and Julie Skandalaris, also of Birmingham, who doubled the Seaholm endowment, bringing the total to $20,000.
Endowments are investment accounts created to hold gifts for general use by the BEF. Endowments, with a set amount intended to last into perpetuity, are used for general projects or for specific purposes specified by the donor.
Mark and Carol DeVore of West Bloomfield, parents of former Groves swimmers, were also inspired to make a difference and offered their support to Groves High School aquatics by donating $10,000 for an endowment fund and $2,500 for a program support fund.
“By creating both an endowment and a support fund, people can contribute to Groves aquatics in whatever way they feel is most beneficial,” said Mark DeVore.
“If they have a child that is only in the program for a few years, they may want to see immediate results from their donation and can choose to contribute to the support fund. Others may want to contribute more long-term funding. With both funds, the aquatic programs will never have to go without critical upgrades at Groves.”
Program support funds are investments created to hold gifts made to the BEF in support of specific programs, activities or individual schools, and can be withdrawn at any time.
Both endowment funds and support funds are tax deductible and offer donors an opportunity to direct funds to the program of their choice. The ability to create endowments and program support funds was finalized by the BEF Board of Trustees in November.
“The Priestleys and the DeVores were instrumental in encouraging the BEF to provide an easy, tax-deductible way to support important programs for the students of the BPS district,” said Laura Couger, BEF executive director. “With a lack of consistent funding from the state and the need for district’s to consider cost-cutting measures, donors have an opportunity to help preserve programs that are near and dear to their heart.”
“We hope that others who are passionate about their BPS experiences will create similar endowed funds,” said David Priestley. “Our hope is that this fund will serve as a prototype for others to endow funds that support their passion, whether it be athletics, the arts, or an academic purpose.”
Interested donors can contact the BEF at (248) 203-3030 or visit www.supportbef.org.