About, Our Mission & Board of Directors

Our Mission : Promoting Excellence and Innovation in Education

What We Fund:mission

  • Learning initiatives beyond the standard curriculum
  • Research-based education innovation and related professional development
  • Pilot projects that have a positive, transforming impact
  • Community/school collaboration projects
  • Engaging and challenging enrichment projects
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics interdisciplinary projects
  • New approaches to citizenship/democracy education

Board Members:

Sarah Gifford, Ann Marie Forbes, Co-Presidents

Andrew Cottrill, Treasurer

Paula Nordhoff, Secretary

Ted Thibodeau, Tracy Priestner, John Miller, Tanya Bernard, Marilyn Packard Luther, Melissa Pacheco, Nancy Rioux, Gina Palmer, Tom Merchant, and Zachary Rioux


Dianne Baron & Karen Powell, President Emeritus

Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts

Why an education foundation?

Public schools across the country have struggled for years to find the funding for their basic needs. In the last two years, that funding has become even more difficult to secure; the collapse of the economy along with the mortgage sector triggered a domino effect that resulted in high unemployment and drastically reduced tax income. In Massachusetts, state funding to public schools has significantly decreased; Westport will receive $175,552 less from the state for the upcoming school year than it did last year. That funding decrease, combined with rising costs in healthcare and mandated special education expenses, is causing some dramatic changes to our schools. Westport lost one teacher per grade at the elementary and middle schools, causing class sizes to rise by 15-20%; in some cases there will be 30 children in a classroom.

Approximately 25% of public school districts nationwide are now supplemented by education foundations. Foundations typically do not fund “the basics,” (i.e. classroom teachers and sports programs) because they cannot sustain salaries for long periods of time. Instead, they fund academic enrichment programs that help give teachers the resources they need to expose students to new and interesting concepts and experiences beyond the regular curriculum. Personal computers were invented just one generation ago. What inventions will be a part of our next generation? We are preparing students for that next generation of inventions that will drive our future economy to places we cannot yet imagine. Our children will someday compete against another candidate for a new job, or sit next to another student in a college classroom, or submit a piece of artwork to a gallery. We want Westport students to feel proud and confident that they were offered the same or better opportunities for success in each situation. Our hope is that these students will thrive in a way that benefits everyone in our community – that they find interesting and productive ways to say “thank you” for the beginning we gave them.