By Linda Dillman
The arrival of a Google data center on Columbus’ southside will benefit Hamilton Local Schools long into the future by helping kick start a foundation supporting the district.
“When development tax abatements are offered, they have to make the school district whole and one of the things we negotiated with Google was to support the academic foundation,” said Hamilton Schools Superintendent Mark Tyler.
A quarter million dollars of seed money from the tech company helped set the stage for creation of the Hamilton Local Education Foundation, which is funded through donations and fundraising.
“We have been very fortunate to start off with a very generous donation made, on the behalf of Google, by Magellan Enterprises,” said organizer Scott Shaw. “Google has decided to give a significant sum of money to the foundation for us to utilize to help the students and staff of Hamilton Local Schools. Google is a great partner to have, and their donation allows the foundation to truly make an impact from its infancy without the unknown of where funds are going to be generated. It allows us to step back, re-evaluate what we are doing and really start to develop a plan that will sustain the foundation for years to come.”
According to fellow organizer Carla Shaw, the foundation benefits staff and students through their AIM Grant classroom and project program. The grants support innovative and creative programming and materials enhancing the learning environment of Hamilton Local Schools.
The first round of grants will be awarded this fall after teachers apply for funding and the board reviews and votes on awarding grants.
Carla said the idea of the foundation was initially created during the COVID school closures in the spring of 2020.
“Scott and I, as educators, could see that there was going to be a need for support for the students and the staff of Hamilton Local Schools when we returned,” said Carla. “Scott really took the lead and began working on bylaws and paperwork to form a 501(c)(3) in order to set a path forward for the future of the foundation. At first, it was just Scott and I working behind the scenes getting everything in line. Quickly we were joined by other members of the board of directors, but the process took a solid year and half with our first official meeting taking place in December of 2021.”
The foundation’s board is comprised primarily of Hamilton Township alumni along with a parent representative, school board liaison and school staff representative. Currently, the foundation is pushing to become more visible in the community.
Projects in development include a Grand Raffle this fall and a comedy night fundraising event. Members of the foundation are taking part in the Obetz Zucchinifest parade, which they hope will generate community interest in their efforts and ways to support the schools.
“So much of the early work was behind the scenes, we want people to know that the Hamilton Local Education Foundation is here, we are excited to help the students and staff of Hamilton Local Schools, and we are an organization worth putting your support behind,” said Carla. “This past spring, Scott and I attended an Auction Night for the Teays Valley Education Foundation. It was a great learning experience. As an organization that has been around for over a decade, the TVEF showed us a great example of what we plan to become. We are just not there yet.”
The husband and wife team feels the Hamilton Local Education Foundation is important and impactful in the local community because a primary purpose of the organization is to bridge the gap between the school and the business community.
“We can host events, fundraisers, and solicit donations in a manner that allows businesses to make an impact at Hamilton Local Schools that may otherwise not be easy for them to accomplish,” said Scott.
Carla added, “Scott and I consider it a privilege to work alongside Superintendent Mark Tyler, the Hamilton Local School Board, and the community of Hamilton Local Schools. We hope that we are doing everything in our power to develop an organization that will be running strong long after we are gone and that generations of Hamilton Local students see the impact of the work being done today.”