Enriching the Lives of Pendleton Students Since 1985

“When we set this foundation up, we had no idea how unique the concept was,” according to Julianne Sawyer, founding member of the Education Foundation of Pendleton, in reflection on the beginning of the organization in 1985.

Julianne and Susan Woodward of the Task Force for Excellence in Education for Pendleton School District 16-R, a year earlier recognized a need for a public non-profit educational foundation to support educational goals for Pendleton students.

The stated purpose of the EFP is to enhance the curriculum of Pendleton School district above and beyond the tax-supported programs.

“Over the years, it appears that we were way ahead of our time,” Julianne noted. The Salem Foundation, the first educational foundation in Oregon, advised the new local group. Eugene was organizing at the same time. Lake Oswego, Portland and Beaverton did not begin their educational foundations until three to five years later.

A. Dale Brandt, M.D., served as the first president of the Pendleton foundation with Julianne as vice-president and Susan Woodward, secretary. Other early board members included: David Nelson and Frank Cupp who joined representatives from all parts of the community.

The Feves family was instrumental in getting the foundation started financially. Jack Whitman, brother of local artist Betty Feves, offered to match every $5,000 raised with $5,000 of his own. In this way, the initial $40,000 was raised to start the fund.

In 2000 Elsa Hagen, a longtime Pendleton educator, left $99,000 to the Foundation. Elsa firmly believed in the Education Foundation and what it gave to the students of Pendleton—opportunities to learn more and to make the school experience more meaningful.

Through the years special donations have been made to the foundation in memory of Judith Irish Anderson, Phil and Bobbie Farley and other local educators.

Harriet Isom created a special fund in January 2008 to honor John Struve, enthusiastic sports supporter. Struve memorial funds are given with the purpose of encouraging “sports participation among PHS students who lack the means to do so on their own.”

The EFP awarded its first grant of $50 in 1987 in support a teacher “workshop for Creative Arts. Other early grants included supporting an arts curriculum pilot program, a summer arts program for teachers, and leadership training for elementary students.

EFP grants have allowed Pendleton students to visit local landmarks such as the Heritage Station Museum, the Pendleton Underground and the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute. Farther afield, trips have been funded to the Portland Art Museum, OMSI, and High Desert Museum in Bend. At home, grants have been used to sponsor OMSI traveling programs and artist-in-residence programs.

Biology classes from Pendleton High School have studied marine biology at the Oregon coast since 1996, thanks, in part, to the support of EFP. Pendleton students have built mousetrap cars, planted a flower garden, visited with a NASA astronaut, participated in Lego League competition and studied moths at Emigrant Springs thanks, in part to grants from the EFP.

The EFP continues today as an independent public education foundation that works with school district personnel to promote quality education and provide a wide variety of educational experiences for Pendleton students. Grants are made in the fall and the spring following submission of teacher requests and presentations to the board.

“Hopefully, the foundation monies will continue to enrich our school district teachers, students and parents,” Julianne concluded.