Success Today! The Most Frequently Asked Questions

What is Public Education Partners?
What is a Local Education Foundation?
What schools benefit from PEP’s efforts?
Why doesn’t PEP give grants to private schools?
Why aren’t taxes paying for these programs?
Where does PEP get its funding?
How are PEP’s board members selected?
How does PEP define its goals?
Who is on the PEP staff?
What will be PEP’s focus in the years ahead?
How are PEP projects evaluated?
Will PEP send a speaker to my club or organization?
How does PEP collaborate with other community organizations?
If I invest in PEP, how will I know my money has been put to good use in the schools?
Will my company receive recognition of its investment?
Is my investment tax deductible? 

May we make a pledge over several years?
May we invest in a particular school, area of the district, or project?
How is money distributed to schools?
Does PEP need volunteers?
How effective was Public Education Partners with its budget over the past five years?

What is Public Education Partners?    (Top)
We are a non-profit organization called a “Local Education Foundation.” 
What is a Local Education Foundation?    (Top)

Local Education Foundations began in the 1980s to mobilize public support for public schools.  LEFs work independently from the school districts in which they are located and have their own staff and board of directors.

What schools benefit from PEP’s efforts?    (Top)
Our projects and programs benefit the public schools of Aiken County. 

Why doesn’t PEP give grants to private schools?    (Top)
Public schools are where the vast majority of our students are educated.  The schools take EVERY student and must work to be sure that each one’s needs are addressed.  The public schools are accountable to the community and are often an integral part of the community.

Why aren’t taxes paying for these programs?    (Top)
Local tax dollars pay about 37% of the school district’s $141 million budget.  Another 55% comes from state and 7% from the federal government all of which are earmarked for salaries, supplies and equipment, and capital expenses.  Approximately 66 percent of each mill is directed toward public education.  The balance is earmarked for county operations.
Public Education Partners use their dollars to provide funds where tax dollars don’t reach.  Initiatives include high quality teacher training, programs that require students to take responsibility for their learning, and expansion and replication of successful programs that would not happen without the funding, coordination and encouragement that Public Education Partners provides.

Where does PEP get its funding?    (Top)
Businesses, individuals and community organizations like the Rotary Club, Lions Club and AMBUCS support PEP through gifts of their time and dollars.  In addition, PEP writes grants to foundations, although most of these go directly to the schools.

How are PEP’s board members selected?    (Top)
Board members serve 3-year terms and are nominated to serve by current members.  In addition, some positions on the board are appointed by local government entities or from the Advisory Councils.

How does PEP define its goals?    (Top)
The first strategic plan, begun in 1995, was given to PEP (then known as Greater Aiken Local Education Foundation) by the Aiken 20/20 strategic planning process for the City of Aiken.  In 2000, the organization changed its name to Public Education Partners and began to serve the entire school district.  A new strategic plan was developed by community volunteers, including business, faith, education, agencies, and concerned citizens.  In 2004, the Strategic Plan Committee of the board of directors set new goals that will guide PEP’s work for the next several years.

Who is on the PEP staff?    (Top)
Diane Mangiante is the founding Executive Director.  Frances Hamilton serves part-time as Assistant to the Director and coordinates the Great Leaps Reading program. 

What will be PEP’s focus in the years ahead?    (Top)
Our new strategic plan describes clearly PEP’s role as Innovator, Sustainer and Maximizer of programs that work.  We will focus on:

Reading – Sustaining and expanding the successful Great Leaps Reading program. 

Science – We hope to replicate the Synergistic Systems math/science lab established at LBC Middle in all areas of the District.  

The Arts – An area of focus from 1995-2000, PEP will again encourage the implementation and strengthening of the arts.  

Mentoring in Context – We seek to increase opportunities for students to be engaged in active learning with caring adults.  

Teacher Support and Training – The Teacher of the Year Banquet, Summer Institute, and other programs.  

How are PEP projects evaluated?    (Top)
Each project is evaluated.  Solicited grants must indicate how they expect the project to change teaching and learning.  Written and personal reports are made to the Board of Directors each year.  Great Leaps Reading data is collected on each student and evaluated.

Will PEP send a speaker to my club or organization?    (Top)
Yes.  Staff and board members are prepared to make presentations upon request and at no charge.  

How does PEP collaborate with other community organizations:    (Top)

a.    United Way  -  Over the years, PEP has worked with United Way to assist with grant writing and to serve on task forces, such as the Childcare Task Force.  PEP and Success-by-Six, a United Way initiative, received a joint award from the Governor in recognition of their many efforts to improve early childhood learning in Aiken County.

b.    Aiken County Tech Prep/School-to-Work Consortium -  In addition to serving on the Tech Prep Consortium Board of Directors, PEP has developed an on-line tool to maximize the effectiveness of the Tech Prep’s Groundhog Shadowing Day.  The Consortium is the primary administrator of C2 Career Connections.

d.    USC-Aiken -  USC-Aiken is another administrator of C2 Career Connections.  And in 2004-05, a new partnership with the Theatre Department of USC-Aiken will create a county-wide high school drama project.  School faculty will be teamed with USC-A students, and a Theatre Festival will be held at Etherredge Center on April 27, 2005.

If I invest in PEP, how will I know that my money has been put to good use in the schools?    (Top)
Investors receive our newsletter and our Annual Report, which highlights the accomplishments of the year.  In addition, Investors are invited to attend a special event in the fall where they can meet our Board, staff, and the many educators who benefited from PEP funds.

Will my company receive recognition of its investment?    (Top)
Yes.  Our donors are recognized in newspaper articles, newsletters, the Annual Report and at the Investors’ Event in the fall.  Occasionally a particular project will warrant the display of the donor’s name in a permanent way.

Is my investment tax deductible?    (Top)
Yes.  Public Education Partners is a public charity and contributions are tax deductible as provided under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code.  The organization is also registered with the Office of the Secretary of State, South Carolina as a fundraising organization.

May we make a pledge over several years?    (Top)
Yes.  Donors who wish to give over a more extended period are welcome to do so. 

May we invest in a particular school, area of the district or project?    (Top)
Yes.  Funds for specific purposes are placed in a special account so that we may assure our investors that they are being used as directed.

How is money distributed to schools?    (Top)
All money is handled by the Grants Management Department of the Aiken County School District.  No funds are awarded to individuals. 

Does PEP need volunteers?    (Top)
From time to time PEP does need volunteers.  For example, extra hands are often needed to set up the Teacher of the Year Banquet in September.  Volunteers are also welcome to help us prepare Great Leaps Reading materials.  If you have special expertise you would like to share, please contact us.