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Pittsfield Education Foundation

The Pittsfield Education Foundation has funded city school programs since 2016. It's ceding that mission to the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation

Pittsfield High School

The Pittsfield Education Foundation will sunset this spring, making room for the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation to step in as the main fundraiser for city schools.

PITTSFIELD — The Pittsfield Education Foundation will sunset its services this spring, ending a streak of funding training for educators and stocking classroom libraries in city schools, among other services since 2016.

In a March 1 letter to its supporters, the foundation said the board had recently determined its efforts to be “duplicative” of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s Pittsfield Education Enrichment Fund, which was revamped in 2022.

Since 2016, the Pittsfield Education Foundation has provided funding for training for educators and programs for students.

In recent years, it purchased equipment for the student television studio at Taconic High School and funded social justice programs to teach skills to young men to overcome adversity, administered by community activist Shirley Edgerton, to name a few.

For educators, the foundation implemented training to help educators effectively teach in the classroom: among them, conversational Spanish courses for teachers to communicate better with students and training focused on reaching literacy objectives.

The foundation also provided scholarships for students at Pittsfield and Taconic high schools.

Kimberlee Chappell, president of the Pittsfield Education Foundation, said the organization fulfilled requests made by educators in the district, varying based on what teachers asked for.

“[The foundation] was founded by teachers to have a space where teachers could satisfy their wildest dreams,” Chappell said. “To say, ‘What would you do if you had the budget?’”

The foundation is donating the remainder of its money to bring in Douglas Fisher, a professor of educational leadership at San Diego State University renowned nationally for his research on the subject, for the opening statements at the Teachers Leading Teachers Summer Learning Institute, an event open to all Pittsfield teachers and paraprofessionals.

Chappell explained that the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation will have more capacity to provide funding for the schools, since her organization is volunteer-based and has less bandwidth. The foundation donated around $8,000 per year on average, all of which went directly back to the schools.

Jenn Frederick, the director of communications and marketing for the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, said the Pittsfield Educational Enrichment Fund was a permanent fund, endowed to continue supporting services well into the future. That fund provides grants to nonprofits in the area that advance arts and literacy curriculum for students. The grantees are chosen by advisory and volunteer committees comprised of parents, teachers, administrators and business leaders.

The Pittsfield Education Enrichment Fund donated $32,800 to nonprofits around the area last year, all with the goal of “enrichment to the basic curriculum” at Pittsfield Public Schools, Frederick said. The nonprofits that benefited from the fund included the Berkshire Music School, Berkshire Pulse and the ROPE Program, among others.

The Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation also funds scholarships, special initiatives and an internship program as part of its efforts.

Knowing that similar goals would be met, Chappell said the foundation thought it was the right time to end its services.

“We wanted to make sure we didn’t just sunset without giving people another place to go,” Chappell said.

The move comes with a bittersweet sentiment for the volunteers, she said.

“This has been near and dear to all of our hearts,” Chappell said.

Matt Martinez can be reached at mmartinez@berkshireeagle.com.

News Reporter

Matt Martinez is a news reporter at The Berkshire Eagle. He worked at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, graduated Marquette University. He is a former Report for America corps member.

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