Niles Education Foundation starting new year

Published 9:23 am Thursday, June 30, 2016

Supporters of the Niles Education Foundation are receiving invitations in the mail this week for the Third Annual “Legendary Evening” fundraiser on Aug. 20, 2016. The NEF event at Orchard Hills Country Club is honoring “Exemplary Vikings Making a Difference” in their communities.

Recipients being honored at this year’s August event were nominated by their former Niles Community Schools’ teachers and administrators and staff. The Board of Trustees of the NEF made the final selections for the “Exemplary Vikings” honors. Their names will be announced in mid-July.

The NEF began its annual “Legendary Evening” in 2014 when the late Ed Weede, the former athletic director and coach, and Margaret “Peg” Parrott, the woman who developed and directed Niles Community Schools’ women’s sports program were honored with a dinner and a recognition program. The NEF began its annual silent auction that year which has become a major source of revenue for the charitable non-profit education foundation.

Last year, the “Legendary Evening” honored the “Sixth Generation” ‘60s rock and roll band that celebrated its 50th anniversary. The nationally acclaimed band features an all-Niles High School alumni group of musicians.

The mission of the NEF “Growing Minds…Changing Lives” is to acquire and grant resources exclusively in support of the Niles Community Schools District for programs and projects aimed at enhancing, enriching and supplementing learning opportunities for students, staff and community.

The board of trustees of the NEF meets monthly to discuss programs submitted by teachers in the form of Innovation Grants and special project requests. Niles Community Schools faculty make presentations to the NEF board and then decisions are made regarding the quality of the program requests and the level of giving for the proposal.

Since its creation in 2009, the Niles Education Foundation has given over $100,000 for Innovation Grants and special projects that benefit all students in all the Niles Community Schools District.

The NEF trustees are particularly proud of their collaborative effort for funding the very successful and highly acclaimed Summer My Way summer school program at Ballard Elementary School, a community collaboration with NEF, the Niles Community Schools District and the Niles-Buchanan YMCA, Lakeland Health Care, the Niles District Library and other generous sponsors. The Summer My Way program has been the model for other area school systems that are interested in providing free meals and activities for Niles students during the summer months.

The Aug. 20 Legendary Evening is opened to the public and tickets are $50. This year’s silent auction will feature projects and services provided by Niles career-tech students including culinary, auto mechanics, artwork and other projects, as well as corporate-sponsored gifts and auction items donated by NEF supporters.

For information about tickets to the annual fundraiser and all the programs and projects funded by the NEF and instructions on making a donation to the non-profit NEF, please visit the NEF website at


Jack Strayer is a Niles High School graduate and a monthly columnist for the Niles Daily Star. Strayer is a trustee of the Niles Education Foundation and the chairman of this year’s “Legendary Evening” event on Aug. 20 at Orchard Hills Country Club.