Klamath Falls, Oregon – Alumni associations are a mainstay of higher education that provide social and professional networks for graduates, as well as substantial funds for colleges and universities nationwide. Soon, decades of proud Pelicans will be invited to join one of a growing number of alumni groups for high schools.

At its Feb. 10 meeting, the school board for the Klamath Falls City Schools approved the formation of a new development office for the district, contingent upon funds being available after the district budgeting process for 2020-2021. 

Directed by the district’s grant writer Gayle Yamasaki, the development office would generate funds by overseeing the nonprofit Pelican Education Foundation (PEF), which solicits private donations for district-wide teacher grants and student scholarships, and by developing an alumni association of Klamath Union High School graduates.

“KU alumni are passionate about their hometown schools,” said Yamasaki. “We saw that at KU’s reopening celebration in October, when graduates came from all over the country to reunite with each other and support their high school’s exciting future. I look forward to working with alumni leaders in forming an association that will be key to the success of our development work.”

According to a survey from the marketing and consumer research consultancy Moran Group, 50 million high school graduates say that they would give back to their school if asked, resulting in billions of dollars in additional funding.

“This seems like a natural next step after all the work of the [PEF] board,” said school board member Dawn Albright in praise of the Pelican Education Foundation, which has distributed $14,000 in teacher grants and $19,000 in student scholarships over the past two years.

“It really would jumpstart some of the things the Pelican Education Foundation wants to do,” said Yamasaki, comparing the potential of a dedicated development staff with that of passionate but time-strapped volunteers.

Yamasaki said the district development office would aim to raise $1 million within five years. Long term, it could be self-sustaining.

 “I love it. I love what it could do,” said school board member Trina Perez. “The [PEF] board is working hard already, and this would provide a needed boost.” 

Perez and Carol Usher motioned to approve the development office, contingent upon available funds after district budgeting. PEF board member Mike Moore abstained from voting due to conflict of interest, but the motion passed by the unanimous vote of the six other school board members.

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