Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

William Price

Committee Member

David Anderson

Committee Member

Gary Marx

Committee Member

Jackie Tracy

Committee Member

Eric Schulz


As school district revenues are reduced by state allocating agencies, local school district administrators and school boards frequently evaluate alternative sources of possible revenue. One emerging source of revenue that many school districts explore is a local education foundation. Local education foundations are 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that are affiliated with their local public school district. This study seeks to understand the problem that local school district leaders face when dealing with the complex issues that shape the success, impact, and viability of local education foundations. This mixed methods study used a cultural and symbolic framework to analyze local education foundations and the affiliated districts they support. A quantitative dataset was built for the study using Internal Revenue Service reporting documents and school district demographic data from the Michigan Department of Education. A statewide survey was distributed to superintendents with a local education foundation operating in their district as a source of data for the study. Finally, purposefully selected superintendents and local education foundation officials participated in follow up semi-structured interviews to obtain qualitative data. The data were analyzed using a variety of descriptive statistical techniques. An analysis of the data revealed that 28.5% of Michigan public school districts have an affiliated local education foundation. Local education foundations contributed an average of $13.61 per student to their affiliated district during the 2008-09 school year. Additional statistical analysis indicated that local education foundations were located in districts with lower poverty levels than those without a foundation, thus contributing to

inequity among districts. The majority of local education foundations employ an embedded governance model with district representation in a voting or ex officio capacity as described by McCormick, Bauer, & Ferguson (2001). The study produced several summative findings. First, local education foundations in Michigan cannot be considered a source to replace reduced state appropriations. Second, local education foundations have a non-financial benefit of improving community relations. Third, local education foundations may begin to investigate moving from a volunteer model to a professional model as an operational model to maximize their benefit to their affiliated school district.

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