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Sup with the Sup
Sup with the Sup
Episode 29: PCSD Foundation with Ali and Lauren

Welcome everyone to the next episode of Provo City School District’s What’s Up with the Sup podcast. I am Superintendent Wendy Dau. This week I am joined by Ali Conger, the president of the Provo City School District Foundation Board, and Lauren Schoenwald, who is a student services specialist, but also does a ton of work for our foundation. We will be talking about the foundation’s upcoming Easter basket auction, but first here are our updates.

  • On Tuesday, March 5th, Utah will hold its caucuses. Caucuses are events where citizens have the opportunity to help make decisions about who will represent us at higher levels of government. Please visit the website of your political party for more information. If you are an unaffiliated voter, you can register with a specific party up until the caucus date. If you are already affiliated with a party, you can only attend the caucus of your affiliation.
  • If you are interested in hearing updates regarding the construction projects happening in the district, please visit the district website and click on the construction newsletter sign up link. Newsletters will be sent out every two weeks after these updates have taken place in board meeting.
  • The Board of Education currently has two draft policies available on the district website for community input. From the main page of the district website, click on the Policies, Forms, and Document button. On the next page, at the top left, there is an orange Review Draft Policies Here button. The current policies under review are a Draft Language Access Policy and a Draft Student Travel Policy.
  • The next school board meeting will be a study session and business meeting on Tuesday, March 12. Study sessions are held in boardroom one at the district office and business meetings take place in the Professional Development Center. Both meetings are open to the public and public comment is welcome at the business meeting.
  • Look for the weekly videocast from me every Friday. In the short video, I provide important information and updates about work happening throughout the district. Welcome everyone. We have two special guests from the Provo Education Foundation with us today.

Wendy: First off, we have Ali Conger, who is our Foundation Board President and a Provo parent. Welcome.

Ali: Thank you. It’s good to be here.

Wendy: We are also joined by Lauren Schoenwald, who is a student services specialist. Among many other hats that she wears, one of the most important is that she helps us with all things foundation related. So welcome.

Lauren: Thank you.

Wendy: So let’s talk a little bit about our foundation as a district. What is the foundation and what is its purpose?

Ali:So I’ve been involved with the foundation for about three years now with the board, and so I’ve learned a lot about it. I’ve attended different events that they’ve had in the past. It’s really one of the reasons why I was inspired to become part of the team is because I love the mission statement, to elevate the success of all students in the community. And we do that with the support of community. Donors and sponsors. So it’s really great to see kids benefit from having new opportunities through the funding that we receive.

Wendy: That’s awesome. I love that mission statement too. So we’re elevating those opportunities for all students. That’s incredible. And we’re going to get into some of those specifics because there’s a lot of really cool things that the foundation does for our kids across the district. So give us some of the major events that the foundation organizes.

Lauren: Well, the foundation organizes a golf tournament usually in the fall. And then we also do teacher mini grants in the fall as well, getting a little bit closer to Christmas. And then we also do Evening of Excellence. Which is with Outstanding Educator Awards that we do and then we also have the Easter Basket Auction which happens to be coming up Okay, so let’s give an overview of a couple of these things But then I really want to zero in on the Easter basket auction since that’s our current event that’s taking place

Wendy: So what for example is the golf tournament and how much money is usually raised and and what do we use it for?

Ali: The golf tournament, it’s great, we get a lot of people in the community to come out and sponsor us, and money has typically in the past gone for scholarships towards Big Springs Camp, and help subsidize that, a lot of the funding that we earn at all of the fundraisers. They could support also like the Outstanding Educator Night and the mini grants. We’ve decided that as we pull in the money, we’ve had enough to increase the number of grants that we’re able to give to teachers within the district and that’s been a benefit.

Wendy: What has been the most creative teacher mini grant that you can remember? I mean, I’m sure there’s a billion of them.

Ali: So last year, there was one at Westridge Elementary School and it was for the music teacher, and she got a lot of different types of instruments. The kids could then create their own music in the classroom, which I thought was really cool.

Wendy: That’s really great, because a lot of students don’t have access to those kinds of things unless they have access to it in their classroom and at their school, so. I appreciated the golf tournament because I got to just ride around in a golf car and just talk to people, and that was pretty exciting, so I really enjoyed that. Let’s talk a little bit about the Easter basket auction that’s coming up. It’s on March 18th. And so tell us a little bit about what this entails. What is the history of this event?

Lauren: Well, we’ve been doing the Easter basket auction for 20 years.

Wendy: Wow. That’s a long time.

Lauren: This is our 20th annual.

Ali: So, the Easter Basket Auction, it’s really great because we get a lot of the PTAs, every school and each PTA donates a basket. The first time I went to the Easter Basket Auction, I didn’t realize it was actually going to be an Easter basket that you could buy, but that’s one of the reasons it’s in the spring. And so it’s kind of neat. The first time I went, I thought, oh, that’s great, you’ve got Easter all taken care of if you buy one of these baskets that you like.

But they usually have maybe it’s a date night or a game night or different stuff that comes from a school or Scera gives a lot of play tickets. So we have a silent auction that people are able to donate and those usually can be bought between. Maybe a hundred and five hundred dollars.

Wendy: Okay.

Lauren: And then we have large ticket items that are in a live auction that are great. They bring in a lot of the money. We have a house in Cabo, a house in Maui, a helicopter ride.

Ali: There’s the Hawaii vacation house. Yes. And which is really great. And then there’s also a cruise on a yacht in Mexico, which is fabulous.

We have some season tickets for the BYU football games that include like parking passes. So some of these things. Wow. That are donated by BYU so you get kind of a better ticket as well.

Wendy: So it’s, it’s not like if I just went and tried to buy the tickets and donated them.

Lauren: You get parking passes too. That’s a big deal.

Wendy: Those are gold. Yes.

Lauren: Yes.

Ali: And so one of the great things is that all of the money goes towards educational experiences. That’s incredible. We don’t have to have overhead. Everybody on the board is volunteer. We have some sponsors that have always helped with the auction, Brent Brown Toyota, and Esnet and Check City. And then we have others like Nu Skin and different community places who give us cash donations.

Wendy: Okay.

Ali: So you can either come to the auction and buy baskets or you can donate things if you have a business at home or your family owns. We would love to have anything donated, and you can email if you want to do that, or if you want to do a cash offer, you could go to the Provo School District website and go into our Community Essentials. And then click on the Foundation and there’s a Donate Now.

Wendy: Okay. What are the most popular kinds of baskets? I’m still excited about a house in Maui. Like I might have to bring some, a lot of money, but anyway, tell us a little bit about like, what are the most popular baskets?

Lauren: Some of the most popular baskets we seem to get are usually like date night ones or ones that have Minky blankets seem to be really popular.

Wendy: Minky couture. Yes.

Lauren: Yes. Magleby cakes, things like that.

Wendy: Okay. But also you can’t go wrong with a Magleby chocolate cake. Like no way, right?

Lauren: Yeah. And experiences. So a lot of times will be tickets to different events.

Wendy: Okay.

Lauren: Um, some of the school ones are fun because if they’re DLI schools, they will do baskets based on the country that their school does.

Wendy: Yeah.

Lauren: It’s really cool.

Wendy: Okay. Well, I know I’m doing two baskets. Actually, I should say my administrative assistant, Bonnie is putting together two superintendent baskets. So we’ll get those to you guys. When are our baskets due?

Ali: March 8th.

Wendy: March 8th. Okay, so it’s coming up. We got to rock and roll and get that going. So, how does the night work? Like, what happens? Like, I show up at the Easter basket auction, what am I going to do?

Lauren: So, it’s at Riverside Country Club. At 6 o’clock is when we start, and we’ll have hors d’oeuvres, and you can look at what the silent auction items are in the baskets.

Wendy: Okay.

Lauren: And it’s all online. So you will actually, when you come and check in, you’ll get the code to bring it up on your phone to be able to look at baskets as well as bid on baskets and see where you are. And you’ll get notifications if you’re outbid, so then you can go and bid again.

Wendy: Oh, that’s good. So I don’t have to keep track. It’s going to send me a text or something. Yeah. Okay, excellent. Okay, good.

Lauren: We like competitive bidders.

Wendy: Yes.

Lauren: And then about 7 o’clock is when we’ll start the live auction. Usually we have students there who are playing music for us. We sometimes have piano players who are students, sometimes we have harpists who are students, and like small jazz band ensembles and things like that.

Wendy: Nice. That sounds like a really fun night. Okay, and then the live auction starts and then that’s when these big ticket items come out. And how competitive does this get? I could imagine this could be very exciting.

Lauren: It’s, sometimes it’s very competitive. And we have – Brent Brown is actually our auctioneer.

Wendy: Okay.

Lauren: Along with Tracy Rawle, and they’re really good at it. And usually they will play off the crowd and it’s just a lot of fun.

Ali: So we’ve had some items go for $20,000.

Wendy: Oh, wow.

Ali: So there’s big, but don’t think that you have to spend 20,000 to get something.

Wendy: Okay. There’s a lot of different price ranges that are, that are happening here. So yeah, I know we were talking about having different sizes of baskets, right? So having some that are bigger and some that have smaller amounts of items so that people really can kind of zero in on what works for them.

Ali: So one of the things that we’ve started just in the last couple of years is to have sponsor a student. So that if you, you know, you don’t get a basket that you want and you don’t want to just buy something to buy it or you can’t even come to the auction, you can donate online and to sponsor a student and we have the estimated cost of that student for that year for all the after school programs or credit recovery, all those kind of things that we offer to the kids and you can just donate that amount and all of it will go to students in the district.

Wendy: That’s amazing. You’re right. So I’m not just buying something for the sake of buying it. I can actually just take that donation and know it’s going to actually help a child in this process. So that’s very cool. What kinds of after school activities does the Foundation help to sponsor?

Lauren: So they will sponsor the after school programs at schools, just your regular after school. And you go there and you do different programs with art and homework help. But there’s also credit recovery and there’s summer school. So there’s a lot of different things that you may not even realize as a part of that kind of after school program that there is.

Wendy: And this is in coordination with a grant, too, that we’re writing, right? So it’s creating that matching, those matching funds, right, that are required through the grant process.

Ali: Yes, our goal every year would be to earn about $225,000. And then we obviously need more than that for what we do, but it’s matched by grants.

Wendy: Okay, that makes sense. Alright. What are your favorite things to get at the Easter Basket Auction? What do you look forward to the most?

Ali: So another thing that we just started a couple of years ago are, we have eggs. It’s just a large Easter egg and they fill them with coupons that could be for experiences or restaurants. And you can buy an egg for $20 or $30. And it’s guaranteed to have at least $50 worth of free items in the egg. So you’re actually getting more, and you don’t know what you’re getting. So you can just buy an egg.

Wendy: It’s just kind of an Easter adventure.

Ali: Yes, and that’s another way to be able to donate without having to spend a lot of money. But you can buy as many or as few eggs as you’d like.

Wendy: Okay. What about you, Lauren? I wish I could look at things more. I usually, I’m like running around.

Wendy: Yes, you probably are.

Lauren: Um, the food is usually really good.

Ali: One of the things I think that is really popular are the high schools, their baskets. A lot of times what the school donates has a lot of t-shirts or different things that represent their school and all their school colors.

And even though I probably already have a hundred t-shirts in my closet, you buy another one.

Wendy:You can always have another one. You can never have too much.

Ali: Yes. And the Provo High, people feel the same way. So you can never have too much of your school pride. So that’s awesome.

Wendy: So a lot of school swag will happen. Do you need to have a ticket to go to this event? Do I have to? Buy an entry ticket or anything to come to the event.

Lauren: Nope. You can just come on over and show up

Wendy: And I’m going to have delicious hors d’oeuvres. And then I’m going to have a silent auction. They’re going to text me and tell me when someone has outbid, whatever it is I want. And there’s going to be a live auction for some of the really cool items, right? Which I probably need to have. A little bit more cash for, for sure.

Lauren: Right.

Wendy: All right. What else do you guys want to share with us about the foundation? And because there’s a lot of behind the scenes work, you guys are meeting monthly, you’re planning the different events, you’re supporting students. What’s the best part about being part of the foundation?

Ali: Like, my very favorite event is the Outstanding Educator, it’s the Evening of Excellence.

Wendy: So our principals and our teachers are nominating those outstanding educators and then on that night we’re often inviting a student to talk about how that teacher has made such a huge difference in, in their lives. So that’s almost like one of those because of a teacher stories, right? Like this is. This is the impact that this individual has made on them. So that’s great. Well, I’m looking forward to that. I haven’t participated in that. So that sounds very exciting. So when is our outstanding educator event?

Ali: It’s on April 23rd.

Wendy: April 23rd. Okay. So we’ve got quite a bit of stuff going on here in the spring. So, okay. So our Easter baskets are due March 8th. Our actual Easter basket auction is on March 18th, and we hope to see everybody there. It’s going to be at the Riverside Country Club at six o’clock. That’s when the silent auction starts and the hors d’oeuvres are out. And then seven o’clock is when the live auction begins, right? Okay. Well, I’m excited. I’ll get to see all of you there.

Ali: So thank you for having me.

Wendy: Yeah. Thank you so much for being on our podcast. Appreciate it.

Wendy: Thank you everyone for joining me for this episode of what’s up with the soup. As always, all episodes will be posted on the district website, YouTube, and anywhere you get your podcasts.

If you have any topics or questions you would like us to discuss on the podcast, please email us at podcast at provo dot edu. As always, we will have another all new episode of What’s Up with the Soup next week. I will be visiting with members of our custodial services team to talk about the amazing work they do at each of our schools.

See you next time!

Shauna Sprunger
  • Coordinator of Communications
  • Shauna Sprunger