Heights alumni and district form new foundation
Cleveland Heights–University Heights City School District leadership is working with the Heights Alumni Foundation to transition the existing alumni efforts into the Heights Schools Foundation (HSF) with an expanded mission and new leadership.
Julianna Johnston Senturia, a 1987 Heights High graduate, is the executive director of HSF.
“Public dollars cover the basics when levies are renewed, but it still leaves some funding gaps for enrichment, innovation, special capital projects, co-curricular activities—that’s where we come in,” explained Senturia.
The creation of HSF is part of the district’s effort to grow its private fundraising efforts and create multiple channels for alumni and others to “give back” to the schools.
With a refined mission to enhance and enrich the educational experiences of all CH-UH students, the new foundation will leverage the energy around the facilities renovation through stronger communication, connecting with alumni and community members, and facilitating a culture of philanthropy across the district.
Over the last few years, generous alumni have contributed $175,000 in gifts toward the restoration of the clock tower.
“We hope to build on that kind of effort around the clock tower project to provide even more ways for private gifts to support the district’s work,” said HSF Board of Trustees President Susan Carver (class of ’78).
“Over the last two years we realized how much interest there is in supporting the schools,” said Talisa Dixon, CH-UH superintendent. “The new Heights Schools Foundation will bring expertise in fund development so that we can keep our focus on creating a strong and effective learning community.”
The alumni foundation previously focused exclusively on the high school, but HSF will broaden its focus to comprise pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.
District leaders expect that this broader effort will enable the district to strengthen partnerships and develop additional ambassadors to share the news of its students and alumni. HSF hopes to make meaningful matches between what the district needs and what donors hope to support, to enrich the educational experience in district schools.
“We’ll work closely with the district leadership to understand where gaps exist and work together to fund solutions,” added Senturia. “The Heights Schools Foundation is the next natural step in the evolution of partnering with our alumni.”
The Cleveland Heights High School Alumni Foundation, established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2001, evolved from the creation of the Cleveland Heights High School Alumni Association. The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education founded the alumni association in 1995 to create awareness and interest in the achievements of Cleveland Heights High School students, alumni and the community. In 2004, the alumni association merged with the alumni foundation.
“It means a lot to look back at where we were, but we are excited about the future possibilities through the Heights Schools Foundation,” said Carver.
Scott Wortman is the supervisor of communications for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District.