Evesham Education Foundation adapts to COVID shutdown

New initiatives support Marlton schools, despite lack of events.

For Deserie Druce, driving her kids to and from after-school activities became a commitment not only for her kids but for herself.

A mother and sales representative at Surety Title Company, Druce sought a way to give back to the extracurricular programs that helped shape the character of her own children growing up.

“My kids have been through the school system, and now that they’re done, it’s my way of continuing to give back to see that the children of the future still have the programs that my children were lucky enough to have,” she said.  

Druce is secretary for the Evesham Education Foundation (EEF), an independent nonprofit formed to enhance and enrich the academic experience for all students in Evesham schools. Because of events being shut down this year, the program has adapted to new changes in its mission. 

The EEF was established in 1995 after Marlton residents started to see a decrease in funds granted by the state. New Jersey business leaders and parents then collaborated on ways to fill the gaps for programs that lost funds. 

“We want to provide funding for programs that the school district was going to cut that they just didn’t have the funds for,” said EEF President Scott Zielinski.

There are three key programs for which the foundation designates the majority of its funds: a coordinated art program for primary students, a genesis counseling program, and a metamorphosis program for select students who have completed sixth grade to take part in a summer enrichment course.

The EEF raises money each year through fundraisers, but due to COVID, it has had to change how it promotes itself. The board designed plans for an email campaign and a donation page on the foundation website to continue awareness.

“We didn’t do much fundraising last year; we were able to get in our biggest event of the year, which is our wine and dine,” Zielinski explained.

Because the EEF lost revenue from two other fundraising programs, a summer golf outing, and a fall cigar dinner, it now seeks community support.

“We’ve been very fortunate; one of our founding board members, who has been on the board since day one, has recently made some significant individual contributions on behalf of his family,” said EEF Treasurer Dave Scott.

The EEF also gets funding from sponsors and businesses around the township, and it now reaches out to the PTA and district parents to bring individuals into the process, Scott added. 

Besides funding three programs, the foundation will receive requests from the school board for certain items it needs but cannot afford. The 17 board members then vote on where to apply the funding.   

“We donated caps and gowns for the eighth graders, and then we gave them a gift bag that had a bunch of candy in it and Amazon gift cards for the kids,” Zielinski noted. “We just felt like with everything going on that we wanted to give back to try to make it a little bit more special for them.”

The foundation plans to put together future events for parents and children, such as a 5K, according to EEF Vice President William Smitheman.

Its main goal is for the community to come together and keep programs available for children despite the lack of state funding.

“If you have a good school district, it’s good for the town,” Scott said. “If it’s good for the town, it’s good for everyone.”

The EEF will hold a golf classic on June 7, its first event since February. For more information on that or how to donate, go to  https://eveshameducationfoundation.org/.