Today we’d like to introduce you to A. Scott McKinley and Regina Quirk.
Founded in 1996 by Richard Phelps, Ralph “Gus” Lordi, and Scott McKinley with the support of individuals, organizations, and businesses who each donated $1,000 to get the Foundation up and running. These Charter Members shared a common vision, dedicated to improving the quality of education in the Rockland Public Schools.
They were confident that the students’ educational experiences would be enriched if their teachers were given the funds to help bring innovative, creative, and exciting projects into the classrooms.
They established an endowment fund to ensure funding for future grant awards. The primary fundraiser is the Ralph ‘Gus ’Lordi Memorial Golf Tournament that is held annually. In addition, many individuals have pledged $100 annually to be members of the Century Club; Memorial donations are often made to honor friends and loved ones who have passed away; and individuals donate throughout the year to support the extraordinary educational activities that are being funded.
They are committed to making a difference in the lives of students in the Rockland Public Schools.
Every September staff members are encouraged to submit grant proposals which outline the projects that they would like to share with their students. These are reviewed by the foundation’s grants committee and funding is awarded in November. More than $500,000 has been given to the elementary, middle, and high schools in Rockland for innovative learning programs, computers, theatre productions, and new technology.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Scott: Sometimes it’s hard to reflect on the early days because of our current success. But it wasn’t easy. We knew that we were a blue collar town. We needed to develop our own identity. We reached out to local groups to present our idea. We needed to set the REF apart for fundraising and not be in competition with other organizations in town.
We developed our mission and began to communicate with residents, teachers and school administration. We developed unique fundraising activities, such as the Golf Tournament and the Century Club. Within the first few years, we brought on two members who had been teachers in the school system, who grew up in Rockland and knew the community. Within a couple years we knew that we needed good financial advisors, so recruited three more Rockland High graduates with that expertise.
The bottom line was that all members were and still are, very invested in the Foundation, its mission, and in offering quality educational and enrichment activities for the students in the public school system. It took about four years to really establish our identity and mission among school folks and townspeople. At one point we had great help from Wearguard as a corporate sponsor. The Board members and the REF continue to evolve in making decisions with consensus and vision.
Rockland Education Foundation – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Since its inception, the Foundation’s goal has been to raise money and establish an endowment fund to ensure funding for future grant awards. The primary fundraiser is the Ralph ‘Gus ‘Lordi Memorial Golf Tournament that is held annually. In addition, many individuals have pledged $100 annually to be members of the Century Club; Memorial donations are often made to honor friends and loved ones who have passed away; and individuals donate throughout the year to support the extraordinary educational activities that are being funded.
In addition to its yearly grant awards, the Foundation has established an endowment fund with over $300,000 to secure future endeavors. We are committed to making a difference in the lives of students in the Rockland Public Schools.
The Rockland Education Foundation awards $30-40,000 in grants each year. It has funded projects such as a Shakespeare Festival, Environmental Initiatives, in school field trips and enrichment events, a drone for the high school science department, a 3D printer for the art department. Other programs funded include special jazz instruction workshops for band students and concerts. Last year the Foundation established a challenge grant in Scott McKinley’s name. The funding was awarded to the school wide Technology Coordinator who purchased the Google Expedition program for use at all grade levels.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Scott says that “Success to me is accomplishing a mission. We measure our success by the quality of grant applications that come in and are executed in the classroom, and the amount of kids who are impacted, acceptance of school department to the process.”
“Creditability has grown tremendously in the school system among administrators, teachers, and parents.”
“We want to maintain an enthusiastic leadership model that drives the foundation in the right direction.”
Regina Quirk, current President, has been complimented by members of school systems in other South Shore communities in that the REF has been able to assist in making a name for the Rockland School System with advancements in technology and the sciences. She is honored to continue in the footsteps of founder, past president and still enthusiastic board member.
Regina: “All Board members have been part of the school system as graduates, administrator’s teachers and offer different perspectives. We are able to come together with a common goal to give back what has been given to us.”
- Website: www.rocklandeducationfoundation.org
- Phone: 781-878-4063
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: RocklandEducationFoundation
Scott MacKinlay, founder and past president of REF
Heather Weydt, Rockland Trust Co, Regina Quirk, President of REF, Lisa Ryan, Technology Coordinator, Rockland Public Schools
REF members and RHS Environmental Club members