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From left to right: Lina Patel, Nancy Wagner, Nathalie Neuburger, Anne Marie Marietta, Danita Enouen, Mindy Patton, Matt Steele, Jamie Natorp, Maggie Edsall.

Featured Article

Above and Beyond Academics

The Mason Schools Foundation enhances local students’ education experiences.

The Mason Schools Foundation began with a generous donation from Ken and Joan Campbell, in honor of their 40th wedding anniversary. The Campbells made their donation with the hope that the funds could be used to help Mason-based students. Thus, in 2008, a team of residents, parents, business leaders and school officials formed what became the Mason Schools Foundation (MSF); an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a resident-driven board of directors. 

“The Mason Schools Foundation is founded on the concept of helping the district take students above and beyond in academics, arts and athletics,” says Mindy Patton, who once served as MSF's President and now serves as the Grant Chair. 

By funding grants to support programs such as the Mason High School (MHS) Language Lab, and the Mason Middle School Robotics Class and Tune Up for Success, the Foundation has gone to great lengths to enrich the educational experiences of Mason students.

The MHS Foreign Language Lab is a great example of a grant with enduring impact. It was established in 2008 after Spanish teacher Rod Stewart noticed a gap in the upper language students' speaking and listening assessments and proposed adding a Language Lab that focuses specifically on these exercises. 

“The lab features individual student stations that allow the teacher to facilitate conversations, and give immediate feedback as the students practice speaking and listening,” Mindy tells us.

Since its formation, the MSF has invested more than $1 million in grants and created an endowment of more than $1 million to sustain the organization. 

“What I love the most about being part of the Foundation is that we fund grants in every single building from pre-K through 12th grade,” current President Nathalie Neuburger shares.  

Since 2014, the MSF has annually invested more than $100,000 in grants across the district.  

“The grants that the Foundation has awarded have not only impacted the recipients, but have informed our practice as a district and allow us to see the results of great ideas,” Mason City Schools (MCS) District Representative, Krissy Hufnagel, explains. 

Granting Opportunities

New grant ideas are submitted, evaluated and awarded every year. “Each spring, the Mason Schools Foundation invites teachers, students and administrators to submit grant proposals sharing innovative new programs, ideas or concepts for consideration for funding,” Mindy describes. “The grant writer completes an application outlining their program, project budget, reach and how it takes students above and beyond.”

The MSF grant team then reviews and evaluates all applications, awarding funding in July of each school year. 

“Over the past 13 years MSF grants have had an impact on every child at some point in their time at MCS,” Nathalie tells us. “We have so many incredible programs in place that could not be funded through the regular school budget.”   

Another impactful district-wide grant is the Innovative Catalyst grant that provides opportunities for teachers to request grants throughout the year that drive change and support the district’s focus areas of inclusive excellence, culture and personalized learning.

Each spring, MSF also provides the opportunity to recognize teachers and community members via nomination for the Above and Beyond Teachers award. One educator per school is recognized and awarded a grant for their classroom. 

“The Foundation embodies the spirit of collaboration and support for education that is vital to the community of Mason,” says Krissy.

Above & Beyond Support

Doaa Jasim, a member of the Lunar Moms of Mason, has been a strong supporter of MSF for many years. As a Lunar Mom, Doaa is part of a core group of parents who want to bridge the gap between the Muslim community and MCS. 

“Our community wants all kids to thrive and excel in Mason Schools. What better way than helping the MSF provide grants to those teachers that are willing to go above and beyond for our kids by providing unique experiences and programs aligned with the curriculum,” Doaa explains. 

Founding MSF board member and local realtor, Jackie Quigley, perfectly defines her purpose behind donating: “When you give to young minds, it’s given back tenfold, because those young minds blossom and continue to do good for our community,” Jackie shares. 

If you’re looking to make a difference in Mason City Schools by supporting MSF, there are many ways to donate or volunteer. You can ‘Give Every Month’ (GEM donation) or make a general donation to propel the “Above & Beyond” journey. Donate by texting MSFGEMS2 to #76278 or email msf@masonschoolsfoundation.org to volunteer. 

In addition to typical donations, community members can also participate in one of the Foundation’s  annual fundraising events, including the Back to School Supply Drive in August, their annual Gala and the January Reading Challenge. 

To stay connected to MSF activities follow them on Twitter @MSFabovebeyond and Facebook @MasonSchoolsFoundation or visit their website, MasonSchoolsFoundation.org

“The Foundation embodies the spirit of collaboration and support for education that is vital to the community of Mason,” says Krissy Hufnagel, Mason City Schools District Representative.

  • From left to right: Lina Patel, Nancy Wagner, Nathalie Neuburger, Anne Marie Marietta, Danita Enouen, Mindy Patton, Matt Steele, Jamie Natorp, Maggie Edsall.
  • Mindy Patton, Grant Chair
  • MSF Grant Program, Tune Up for Success at Mason Middle School.
  • Lunar Moms of Mason, from left to right: Brandi Holmes, Fatma Almaery, Shaimaa Garaween, Doaa Jasim, Hoda Algamal, and Mona Abdel-Kader.
  • Doaa Jasim