By Kelsey Bourn
As the school year gets underway, I wanted to draw some attention to an inspirational organization, the Methow Valley Public School Funding Alliance (PSFA), to which I have both a philosophical and personal connection.
Born and raised in Winthrop, I spent all my childhood years moving through the Methow Valley School District. I started first at Little Star Montessori School, attended Allen Elementary in Twisp, and then on to the current Methow Valley Elementary School and Liberty Bell High School. As a junior in high school, I served as one of the first student board members for PSFA during its very first year in 2003.
After graduating from Liberty Bell in 2005, I studied at the University of Washington, getting my bachelor’s degree in International Development and master’s degree in public policy and governance. Between my studies, I traveled through most of Central and South America, Western Europe and parts of Southeast Asia.
My trip to Nepal specifically led me to a degree in development and I remember thinking about how much I wanted to make a difference. It wasn’t until after a couple of years in the Jackson School of International Studies that I realized how complex development issues were and how external influences could have major unintended consequences on the local economy.
It was then that I realized that I needed to adjust my focus from foreign development to more local causes. It dawned on me that anywhere else I would be working, I would be considered an outsider trying to have my opinion influence their local concerns. There is no place where you have a greater right or ability to do something productive and meaningful than in the world than to contribute to your own community.
When I moved back to the Methow Valley I decided to take what I had learned and put my energies into a community where I had a vested interest and could shape the future of the world little by little. Donating time or money to nonprofit organizations is such a crucial part of a community and has a direct effect on our future. You never know what or where your money is going when you donate to large international or national organizations or how it will negatively impact some place that it is supposed to be “helping,” but with local organizations you can directly see the results. In most cases, businesses and the government leave some major gaps in services and we are fortunate to have nonprofit organizations step in to meet these needs.
This spring I decided to again join the Public School Funding Alliance as a volunteer board member. While I was living in Seattle, I was looking for a nonprofit that spoke to me as much as PSFA did while I was in high school — an organization that put the students at the heart of its mission, supported the current work and effort of the local public-school system, and did what it could to enhance it with additional funding.
The Methow Valley is fortunate to have an organization like this to help support and fund programs that offer students opportunities to enhance their education that for students in the city may just take for granted. I love that PSFA allows our students to keep up with other high-achieving parts of the state.
More than 10 years after its inception, PSFA has grown and developed into a much larger organization and has become an integral addition to our public-school system. Teachers, students and community members apply for funds to finance a variety of programs that enrich and expand the educational experiences of our youth.
This September and October are the primary funding months for PSFA. With a nearly $80,000 programming budget this year alone, the organization plans to fund a variety of programs such as Spanish classes, after school Cub Club, violin classes, science trips and experiences, updates to our school libraries, poetry workshops, tutoring, college advisers, Let ’Em Ride horseback riding, artists in residence and many more. Most of the PSFA funding comes from local donors, along with some from Amazon Smile and Give Methow. What an amazing gift you give to the students of our valley!
Keep an eye out in your mailbox for a letter from our new executive director, Laurie Ulmer, and our annual brochures highlighting some of our current programs and budget. If you would still like to learn more you can visit www.methowvalleypsfa.org to see the full list of programs, board members, and find a donation form online. You can make secure donations through Paypal and as a registered 501(c)(3) organization, all donations are tax-deductible.
I am so proud to be a Methow Valley alum and be back home serving my community through the efforts of PSFA. Thank you in advance for your continued support of PSFA, Methow Valley School District staff, and our students. Go Lions!
Kelsey Bourn is PSFA board member.