Education foundations merging

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By Amber Coulter

Two area education entities are combining their goals and resources as Hardin County Educational Foundation and North Central Education Foundation will become one.

Steve Arel, president of the Hardin County Educational Foundation, said organization representatives began considering a merger years ago, but the Hardin County organization was busy fundraising for the Performing Arts Center at John Hardin High School and plans to merge were dropped.
Then the economy made things hard for the Hardin County organization as money began to dry up.

“We tried to re-evaluate what we could do and what would keep us relevant,” he said.

The answer was to merge with the North Central foundation to have those resources available to support the Hardin County organization’s programs, such as acquiring computers for schools and providing money for college scholarships, Arel said.

The merger also allows the Hardin County organization to draw from experience and input that the North Central foundation has to offer. The merger goes into effect in July.

Davette Swiney, vice president of North Central Education Foundation, said the merger also will allow the organizations to expand services offered to learners of all ages.

“Building a community of learning is part of what we do every day in our office and what our board members are committed to,” she said.

Al Rider, president and chief executive officer of North Central Education Foundation, said the arrangement will help leaders from both groups create a more seamless support service to learners because they will cater to people of all ages.

“It assists us in being able to view education as a continuum, rather than segments,” he said.

Nannette Johnston, superintendent of Hardin County Schools, said the merger will expand the organizations’ overall visions.

“The Hardin County Educational Foundation and the North Central Education Foundation have a common theme, and that is putting educational opportunities in the hands of everyone, young and old,” she said.

Officials haven’t decided what services might grow out of the arrangement or what the structure of the consolidated group will look like. Possibly, there will be a committee within the North Central organization to Hardin County Schools, Arel said.

Arel will serve on North Central’s board to help with the transition. He said the changes will not stop the services either organization provides.

“Let me be clear about this,” he said. “The Hardin County Educational Foundation is not going away. It’s changing.”

Volunteers from the Hardin County organization will have plenty of work to do under the new arrangement, Arel said.

“From our standpoint, we’re still committed and we’re going to remain involved,” he said.

Rider said the Hardin County organization’s work is important, but it can benefit from the staff, resources and respect that the North Central organization has.

“They’ve done some phenomenal things, but they’re volunteers and they’re getting tired,” he said.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.