Big Sandy Education Foundation helping students with schoalrships
December 16, 2020
The Big Sandy Education Foundation, has been quietly working to improve our local schools and help students for nearly five years. The less well known foundation has given over $25,000 to classroom projects at the schools and over $8,000 in scholarships in the last five years. Brad Moore, the chairman of the foundation board, explained some of the recent projects the foundation has undertaken: “A couple of our bigger projects that we helped with... we gave $5,000 to the lighting project in the auditorium. The latest one, we just gave another $5,000 donation to the basketball court at the elementary to help with that project, too.”
The foundation’s mission is: “To enhance the educational opportunities of the students at Big Sandy Schools.” Whenever they receive a request, the foundation asks if the work will fit the mission as the measure of whether or not they will take on the project. “We’re not there to replace the financial responsibilities of the school. Like textbooks and things like that. We’re there to enhance the opportunities for kids.”
Officially launched in the spring of 2015, the foundation came into being when a potential donor approached Brad Moore and told him “If you guys can establish a 501(c)3 foundation, we may be able to do some contributions to you.” He explained: “Because of the way that the tax laws had been, they wanted to donate to someone who was a 501(c)3. That was in the fall of 2013. So I started on the process right away. I used a school attorney to help with the paperwork. And then an accountant out of Billings agreed to help us out at a bargain rate to put it all together and to deal with all of the filings with the state and the feds and all of that. It took us about 18 months to get that done and become official. So in the spring of 2015 we were granted our 501(c)3 status by the federal government. That’s how it got started.
Brad Moore is the chairman of the foundation. The other directors are Shaud Schwarzbach, Jennifer Darlington, Bart Bitz, and Gin Edwards. The foundation is not affiliated with the school, but works to support the schools.
Brad explained that one of the bigger scholarships the foundation does is the Tordick Wildlife Foundation Scholarship. The scholarship is named after the Wildlife Foundation because it has been a large contributor to the foundation for years. There is a plaque in the High School’s multipurpose room representing the scholarship award. “So we set that up. It was the first thing we did when we got going, setting up that scholarship fund. We’ve been giving to qualified people a $1,000 scholarship for college. Last year, we had 3 good applicants, and they were awarded each a thousand dollars. It’s one of the bigger local ones.”
The application for the scholarship itself is very short because it is being awarded in a small town. “We know everybody. We know what their background is. Preferably, “you’ve got to be going to school in Montana. And you’ve got to be going into agriculture or natural resources because it is the Tordick Wildlife Foundation Scholarship. That was our choice as the board.”
The foundation also hosts several scholarship funds and memorials for other groups. Basically this is when a scholarship is set up with them because they have the 501(c)3 status. They simply host the finances. “The families are still in control of the scholarships and who gets them, and the process and all that. We just write the checks. It’s a simpler process.”
For those who are interested in supporting the foundation, Brad explains that “There are a several ways to do it. We do have an email address. It’s email@example.com. It’s the same as the school ones. Our accounts are housed locally at the bank. So they can stop in there and make a contribution if they want. We’ve had that happen, anonymous ones. Of course, Shaud is at the bank and is a director. Or you can talk to any of the directors. Lots of ways.”
“The directors are always excited to be able to contribute to projects in Big Sandy that benefit the kids and our community.
That’s our goal, and we’re really appreciative of all our donors that have helped us get the foundation off the ground and have allowed us to do this for a long time. We’re appreciative all the way around and happy to be able to help out where we can. We feel very fortunate that we can do that and help out. We continue to encourage people to apply for funds for those things and if donors want to try to set up anything for long term, too. We’ll gladly help them out.”