Celebrating student artists and an anniversary milestone
About 150 people joined us at the Olin Park pavilion for food, a silent auction and raffle, giveaways, and camaraderie. Member Benefits President and CEO David Kijek took us on a trip down memory lane as we acknowledged 50 years of serving our members through our mission, “To advance and protect the financial well-being of public education employees and their families.”
Then it was time to honor this year’s winners of our annual Student Art Contest. Steve Goldberg, Executive Director of WEA Member Benefits Foundation, Inc., introduced each student who attended the gathering, read their artist statement, and presented them with their prize. It was moving and inspiring to everyone to hear the thoughts and feelings that these young students put in to creating their art. We are so proud to be able to showcase their talent and acknowledge their efforts.
Ryan Demers, a Wisconsin educator who owns Mr. D’s Atomic Catering, provided our delicious food. Ryan has been teaching for 19 years, 11 in Pewaukee. He teaches Family and Consumer Sciences, including Culinary, Advanced Culinary, Pro Start, and Foundations of Restaurant Management. Says Ryan, “I appreciate the opportunity to cater an event for WEA Member Benefits—it was great to take care of a company that looks out for educators!”
Our staff thanks everyone who attended our gathering. And we thank each and every one of our members for placing their trust in us. We’re looking forward to the next 50 years of serving you!
Update on challenge grants for student mental health programs
WEA Member Benefits Foundation, Inc., with major funding from WEA Trust, is providing challenge grants to four K–12 school districts as part of a pilot program. Money granted will be used as each district sees fit. Here is what has taken place so far.
July 12, 2022: The American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation and the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact have committed to supporting this pilot project, joining a growing list of corporate philanthropic organizations.
June 22, 2022: The Appleton Area School District received a $40,000 grant. Appleton was chosen not only for its services but for the existing community partnerships and track record of support in the Fox Valley.
April 25, 2022: Racine Unified School District Executive Director of Student Services Andrea Rittgers announced the District received a $40,000 challenge grant, and they plan to use the money to offset high insurance deductibles for families so that all students have access to the District’s mental health clinics.
April 11, 2022: Members of the Sun Prairie School Board and district administrative team met with Foundation Executive Director Steve Goldberg and Janet Thomas, Associate Director of Student Services, during a presentation of a $30,000 donation for student mental health programming in the district.
“When we asked school mental health professionals what was missing from student mental health support, they frequently mentioned private philanthropy,” said WEA Member Benefits Foundation Executive Director, Steve Goldberg. “We’re not the one stoking the fire under this engine. School districts are hungry for this.”
For more details and up-to-date information, visit the Foundation news page.
Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs)
Did you know you can choose to give up to $100,000 to a qualified charity from your IRA (other than an ongoing SEP or SIMPLE IRA) without counting it as taxable income when you are over 70½ years old? This type of gift is called a qualified charitable distribution (QCD).
A QCD will count towards your required minimum distribution (RMD). However, you can’t claim a charitable contribution deduction for any QCD not included in your income.
Our financial advisors can help you calculate how much you may want to rollover to a Traditional IRA that will generate a QCD equal to the amount you intend to gift each year. You will still have an RMD from your 403(b), but it will be a smaller amount. Give us a call at 1-800-279-4030, Extension 6730 or visit our Financial Planning pages to learn more about QCDs.
P.S. Would you consider using all or part of your QCD to give to WEA Member Benefits Foundation? Visit the website to learn about our new initiatives that support our public school teachers and students.
Foundation seeks funders to meet new challenge grants for student mental health initiative
As part of a pilot project to test a funding model for expanding private philanthropic support for school-based mental health programs throughout Wisconsin, WEA Member Benefits Foundation, Inc., with major funding from its sister organization—WEA Trust—is providing challenge grants to four K–12 school districts as part of the pilot: Appleton ($40,000), Racine ($40,000), Sun Prairie ($30,000), and Watertown ($30,000). The Foundation will help these districts approach potential funders in their local communities to meet their challenge grant, potentially doubling the total for each district.
“We are delighted to have been chosen as a partner for the pilot,” said Watertown Unified School District Superintendent Cassandra Schug. Janet Thomas, Associate Director of Student Services at Sun Prairie Area School District is “thrilled to be one of the recipients of this unrestricted grant,” and added that the district will use the grant to “strengthen and expand our current school-based mental health priorities.”
Initial funding for the pilot has come from a variety of companies and organizations. The Foundation is very pleased to support these school districts and invites funders in their communities to join in this challenge grant opportunity.
More information can be found at weafoundation.org/news.
WEA Member Benefits Foundation initiatives
Effective teachers are the key to student success and empowering them with the resources they need to be effective in the classroom is vital. The WEA Member Benefits™ Foundation is leading two statewide initiatives, both of which are pilot projects to create funding paths for private philanthropy to address some of the biggest challenges facing public schools in Wisconsin:
- Establishing a funding path to help provide financial support of school-based mental health for PK-12 students.
- Testing a statewide funding model from private funders to help many rural and low-income PK-12 student households connect to the Internet.
Donations to the Foundation also help us support teachers and their communities through:
- WEA Member Benefits’ Annual Student Art Contest.
- Classroom supply grants for teachers.
- Professional development initiatives for educators.
- And more.
Learn more at weafoundation.org.
WEA Member Benefits Foundation update
WEA Member Benefits Foundation is very pleased to announce the establishment of new partnerships to financially support school-based mental health and to help students with internet access. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity created by WEA Member Benefits.
The Foundation is leading a statewide effort to establish a clear funding path to help philanthropic organizations and individuals provide financial support of school-based mental health and K–12 student access to the internet. These initiatives resulted from a series of discussions conducted by the Foundation to identify the top challenges facing Wisconsin’s public educators. School-based mental health and student internet access were mentioned frequently as major, unmet needs for K–12 students and schools.
Meeting the need
Recent studies have found at least 20% of all K–12 students face serious mental health challenges that affect their academic success and personal well-being. Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction (DPI) estimates that during the COVID-19 pandemic, that number spiked to 60% for high school students.
The need for student access to the internet is also high. The DPI estimates that despite government funding and provider discounts, at least 15,000 K–12 student households are unable to afford the monthly internet connection fee.
DPI, the Public Service Commission (PSC), and other state organizations say that a major missing piece in funding both school-based mental health programs and student internet access is private philanthropy. Steve Goldberg, Executive Director* of the Foundation, explains, “We learned that financial support from philanthropic organizations and other donors has not been widespread—not for lack of interest, but due to the lack of a clear funding path for philanthropic support. Corporate foundations throughout Wisconsin told us they really want to help fund these two causes, but they just aren’t sure how.”
A path for funders
The Foundation is now developing a funding mechanism to bring more philanthropy to the table from funders throughout Wisconsin. We are partnering with the DPI, the PSC, and the Cooperative Education Services Agency (CESA) to build a funding path for student internet access. We are also partnering with DPI and the Wisconsin Coalition for Expanding School-Based Mental Health to establish a funding path to support school-based mental health.
In addition to these efforts, we are partnering with the Wisconsin Philanthropy Network and the Center for Community & Nonprofit Studies at UW-Madison to promote both funding paths and to recruit more funders once those models are tested. Pilot projects in selected school districts are scheduled for late 2021 and early 2022.
Early financial support
“We are thrilled with the response our approach has already generated,” says Steve. Accomplishments so far include:
- A $45,000 PSC grant to support our internet access pilots.
- Pledge of a $100,000 gift from one of our business partners (which Member Benefits will match) for our school-based mental health pilots.
- Additional support from other Member Benefits’ business partners who have pledged $35,000, which Member Benefits will also match.
Steve adds, “The total support from our business partners is $135,000—which means our goal of $200,000 is definitely within reach.
“Our ultimate goal is to bring more philanthropy to the table in order to help thousands of student households afford a local internet connection and to strengthen school-based mental health programs throughout the state.”
Want to help?
If you’d like to make a tax-deductible gift to support school-based mental health and/or student internet access, you can:
- Donate online at WEA Member Benefits Foundation.
- Send your check to: WEA Member Benefits Foundation, 660 John Nolen Dr., Madison, WI 53713
All donations received by 12/31/21 will be matched up to an aggregate of $200,000.
*Consultant to WEA Member Benefits Foundation representing Steve Goldberg Consulting, LLC.
The creation of WEA Member Benefits Foundation, Inc.
The Foundation came about based on our set of corporate beliefs.
At WEA Member Benefits:
- We believe in education.
- We believe in public schools.
- We believe every public school employee deserves to be financially secure.
The creation of the WEA Member Benefits Foundation is a natural extension of our beliefs. Its purpose is to support public education, public educators, and the communities they serve. The goal of the Foundation is to provide financial resources for their success.
This year’s WEA Member Benefits’ Annual Student Art Contest, for example, was co-sponsored by the Foundation. Thanks to a generous donor, students gained some very special recognition for their creative work. Learn more about our student art winners.
Donations to the Foundation are tax deductible to the extent allowed under applicable law and can be made in the form of cash or check, bequests from a will or estate plan, or qualified charitable distributions from an IRA. You may also name the WEA Member Benefits Foundation as a beneficiary in your IRA or 403(b) account.
Learn more about WEA Member Benefits Foundation and how to contribute, or contact us at 1-800-279-4030.