A longtime and anonymous supporter of the Mountain Education Foundation is helping to secure the future of Signal Mountain children and schools with a donation of $1 million to the MEF Endowment Fund. This major gift to the Endowment will be invested for long-term benefits, with the earned endowment income eventually used for the Foundation’s mission of strategic investment in educational excellence at Signal Mountain public schools.
“I believe in Signal Mountain schools and the Mountain Education Foundation," said the benefactor. "MEF provides tremendous, valuable resources that are key to helping students succeed. Investing in the MEF Endowment means those resources will be available for generations to come."
Donations to the MEF Endowment are separate from gifts to the MEF Annual Fund. Annual fund donations are used to meet current needs and annual grants for Signal Mountain’s three public schools, including funding 13 teacher salaries and more not covered by public dollars. The MEF Endowment is an investment fund designed for long term sustainability of MEF’s mission of supporting excellence in education for Signal schools, beyond what public funding provides. Gifts to the endowment are not used for current school needs, but are invested for long-term impact and support. An endowment typically includes funds given to a nonprofit by donors who have stipulated as a condition of the gift that its principal may not be spent, and who expect that its value will increase over time.
“We are humbled by and so appreciate the trust evident in this tremendous gift and long-term donor support,” said MEF Board Chair Dr. Jonathan Welch. "The donor believes in the great work we are doing today, but more importantly in ensuring the long-term success of schools, teachers and kids decades from now. We’re thrilled at this commitment to sustain our mission of striving for the best in education at Signal Mountain schools.”
This long-term investment comes on the heels of a tough year for all nonprofits, including MEF. 2020 saw a loss of more than $150,000 in annual fund revenue for MEF, due to COVID-caused cancellations of three major fundraising events and other declining donations. While revenue has been down, the MEF-funded needs for students not only continued, but increased. MEF helped fill those revenue gaps with short-term COVID-related state and federal funding, and hopes for a return to some sense of normalcy around fundraising in the coming year.
“I couldn’t be more grateful for this altruistic individual who cares so much for our children," said MEF Executive Director Hilarie Robison. "We are blessed with donors who are committed and generous and believe in the power of what we are doing now for students, as well as the need for long-term investment in the future. We hope and anticipate our community will continue their stalwart support even in this trying year. ”
Though this endowment gift does not immediately impact current school needs or fill the COVID-caused funding gaps, it does give MEF leadership and Signal Mountain schools a dose of hope and a solid base for future sustainability, said officials.
“Donating to both the immediate, yearly operational needs through an annual fund and to the long-term sustainability of the organization through an endowment fund are equally valued and important to every non-profit,” said Ms. Robison. “We hope this act of generosity inspires even more giving across our community for education, as well as the many other areas of need.”