Willamette Christian School & Lane Leadership Foundation Partnership
In May of 2017 Willamette Christian School (WCS) announced to families that Willamette Christian Church (WCC) would no longer oversee the school, announcing that they needed a new organization or entity to provide governance and leadership of the school. Todd Young and Josh Bidwell took it upon themselves to provide leadership and oversight for the school while gathering support. Seeking support for WCS they reached out to Dave Williams and the Lane Leadership Foundation (LLF) to come alongside their executive team and help govern the school.
During the initial investigation between WCS & LLF both organizations identified areas of deficit and strength. Areas of deficit included admin support, financial health, staffing, board development, school vision/policies, and system efficiency. Strengths included school community, class sizes, curriculum, and parent support. At risk of losing space, leadership, HR, bookkeeping as well as financial support, staff and board members, it was decided that the fiduciary responsibility of WCS would be signed to LLF beginning July of 2018. Upon this agreement WCS and LLF entered into a formal partnership with a legal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by both parties on August of 2018. This was all done in an effort to accomplish the goal of helping grow and build capacity of WCS as their own entity separate from WCC, which includes helping launch WCS as their own self-contained 501(c)(3) when independence is sustainable. Additional goals of this agreement include a developing a functioning board, securing finances and building better systems.
Since June achievements have included the following: the hiring of a new principal, increased enrollment by 25%, enhanced HR and bookkeeping to include direct deposit for our staff, the building out of a technology program to be fully developed in Fall 2019, a staff care plan and a way to monitor the overall health of our staff. The formation of a new executive team has also been established that provides day to day leadership for the school. The executive team is comprised of Principal Mike LaSage, Assistant Principal Kathy Young, WCS board member Dave Williams and LLF liaison Molly Frank.
We have learned through regular evaluation and feedback from our teachers that they need more support. This has caused us to make our top priority improving their compensation and enhancing a culture of a united team. Our executive team is currently working through a plan to achieve this goal.
In the next year, the WCS board and executive team have decided to focus on increasing student enrollment, classroom observation, community impact efforts, staff culture, teacher salaries, and building scholarship and savings accounts. The MOU outlines in further detail the nature of our partnership and scope of oversight, government, and legal structure.
Annual operating budget:
- Annual Income: $1,264,128.23
- Annual Expenses: $1,263,981.17
LLF provides 10% of WCS’s annual budget. This equates to roughly $126,398.12
About Lane Leadership Foundation:
Lane County has a wide array of people who live inside its borders. Many flourish on a daily basis and have no trouble meeting their needs. However, there are also many individuals who experience severe poverty, homelessness, or lack the means to obtain necessary provisions. LLF’s mission is to connect those individuals to needed services and resources through community collaboration and navigation.
The need for stable and affordable housing in Lane County continues to grow. LLF is aiming to meet needs for low-income housing for a variety of different demographics including at-risk and homeless youth, individuals who have been formerly incarcerated, and the families of individuals who have been formerly incarcerated.
LLF recognizes that providing affordable housing is only part of the solution. Equally as important is helping individuals secure reliable jobs. In line with housing, gainful employment is another cornerstone to live healthily and happily. With the job market flooded with low paying, entry-level jobs, education and training are more important than ever.
LLF offers different services to the community. These support services include; advancement, human resources, financial & asset management, mentorship, leadership development, vision & strategy, and program development. Currently LLF is partnered with a number of organizations in town that utilize individual services and houses a number of initiatives that have full access to all of their resources and services.
LLF oversees the books for nine organizations in town and around the world along with book keeping, LLF has strong ties in the community. They not only have two local churches working from their office but also have a number of other local congregations represented amongst their staff and volunteers. Along with congregations LLF has developed a great partnership with the city of Eugene, Saint Vincent DePaul (SVDP) and the Department of Human Services (DHS). LLF is currently partnered with both the city and DHS to address the housing and homeless needs in our community.
LLF seeks to partner with local organizations in order to help build their capacity. LLF will serve as consultants to help build up and equip leaders in the community. Without equipped community leaders, sustained success will be unlikely. LLF initiatives include Agape Families, Entrada Rafting Company, and Hosea Youth Services.
Last year Hosea Youth Services (HYS) was approached by the city of Eugene and Saint Vincent De Paul to partner with them in creating housing for homeless girls in Eugene. Through this partnership HYS, the city of Eugene, and SVDP were able to convert an old church on Willamette St. into 13 individual housing units for homeless and unhoused girls ages 16-18 in the community. This partnership gave LLF the opportunity to provide admin and technical support.
Additionally, LLF and Agape Families (an initiative of LLF) host 5 camps each summer. Camps serve youth ages 7-17 who have a family member or loved one who is incarcerated. Outside of camps, Agape Families has a mentorship program that matches youth with adult friends who are positive role models that nurture possibilities. Agape Families and the Oregon State Penitentiary work together along with faithful volunteers to host a parenting class for fathers who are incarcerated, helping them learn parenting skills for both inside and outside prison. To date LLF and Agape Families have served over 700 kids in Oregon!
LLF has its own operating 501(C)(3) overseen by a board of directors comprised of different individuals in the community who seek to further the mission of LLF. We look forward to the bright future of WCS.