The Marietta Schools Foundation reached their $3 million fundraising goal last year and continues to see a profitable return on their investments, said Neil Barfield, executive director of the foundation. That figure represents the management of 33 separate funds with aggregate assets of $3 million, he explained, adding that only the earnings of those investments are spent. Aggregate payout reached $1 million in 2003 and will reach $2 million this year.
"One of our best fundraising years ever was 2010," Barfield said, adding that Marietta schools alumni, employees, businesses and friends of the system are among those making contributions. Barfield is a 1958 graduate of Marietta High School and retired after a 30-year career in banking. He was tapped for the executive director position in 1994 and says he enjoys working in the area of education, but with a business touch.
Founded in 1983, the foundation reached its first $1 million in assets in 1998 and $2 million in 2005, Barfield said. Programs funded by the Marietta Schools Foundation include scholarships for outstanding students, awards for teachers of the year and equipment for classroom educators.
Governed by a 25-member board of directors, the foundation's purpose is to promote educational achievement and excellence among students, faculty, staff and administrators of Marietta City Schools. The system, which has about 8,000 students, comprises seven elementary schools, the Marietta Sixth Grade Academy, Marietta Middle School, Marietta High School, the Center for Advanced Academics and the Marietta Performance Learning Center.
"Our board includes leading citizens in this community, which include judges, attorneys, bankers and even former Marietta city mayors," Barfield said. "This community really supports our Marietta schools system." He and foundation assistant Vickie Hunt, a 1969 Marietta alum, work inside an old Marietta fire station on Polk Street that was renovated in 2007 for the foundation offices. Thomas Rocco serves as this year's foundation president.
Barfield said the largest foundation endowment is $500,000 and about 1,000 donors contribute annually - about 500 alumni, 300 system employees and 200 others who are neither graduates nor system employees. Barfield said diversification has been the key to the foundation's success. "We have weathered the economic storm by expanding our contributor base," Barfield said, adding that 18,000 system alumni are a great source to tap into.
One business contributor to the foundation is Marietta Board of Lights and Water. "We believe the Marietta school system is a major ingredient in attracting new businesses and residents to Marietta," said Robert Lewis, general manager of Marietta BLW. "The Marietta Schools Foundation provides important support to that system in many ways. The bottom line is that we see it as an investment in the future of Marietta."
This year's major Marietta Schools Foundation fundraiser will take place July 4 rather than in March as in previous years, Hunt said. The fundraiser will take place at Northcutt Stadium and will be part of the festivities surrounding the annual Marietta Fourth of July parade and fireworks display.
For more information, visit www.mariettaschoolsfoundation.com.