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KSBA meets its match

Matching challenge

Generous matching challenge raises $20,000 for KSBA Educational Foundation

Kentucky School Advocate
February 2021

Staff report

The Kentucky School Boards Association capped off its six-week fall fundraising campaign for the KSBA Educational Foundation on New Year’s Eve, an ambitious $10,000 matching challenge issued by long-time affiliate member and foundation contributor American Fidelity Educational Services. Thanks to the generous support of school board members, education leaders, staff and friends, KSBA successfully met the matching challenge goal, with many contributions coming in the final days – and even hours – leading up to the Dec. 31 deadline. In achieving the goal, American Fidelity matched the $10,000 raised dollar-for-dollar for a campaign total of $20,000 – all of which will support KSBA’s First Degree Scholarship Program.

Celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, the First Degree Scholarship is awarded annually to qualified Kentucky high school seniors who would be the first members of their immediate families to receive a postsecondary degree.  

“On behalf of the KSBA Educational Foundation board of directors, I wish to thank all those who made meaningful gifts during the matching challenge,” said foundation board chair and Walton-Verona Independent school board member David Turner. “We are grateful to anyone and everyone who supported the foundation in 2020.”

The fall fundraising campaign represented the largest in the foundation’s history, a notable accomplishment 10 months into a global pandemic. KSBA Communications Director Josh Shoulta said that a campaign success of this scale would not have been possible without the leadership of American Fidelity.

“By issuing this $10,000 matching challenge, American Fidelity hung a sizable carrot out there, making it possible for individuals to have their gifts matched, essentially doubling their impact,” Shoulta said. “In doing so, American Fidelity not only helped ensure a bright future for the foundation and would-be scholarship recipients, they also set a powerful example. And it worked.”

Rebecca Combs, Kentucky state manager for American Fidelity Educational Services, noted the organization’s history of supporting KSBA and public schools.

“American Fidelity has served as a First Degree Scholarship sponsor since its inception, and we wanted to do something that would help the foundation take its next leap forward,” Combs said. “We are proud to have inspired others to give to the foundation, and we understand that it takes a village to advance public education in our Commonwealth.”

Cori Hack of Marshall Co. High School (center) was presented a 2020 First Degree Scholarship by Kate Mathis and Rebecca Combs, State Managers for American Fidelity, KSBA President Ronnie Holmes and KSBA Executive Director Kerri Schelling at the 2020 KSBA Annual Conference.


While many are familiar with the association’s support of the first-generation scholarship program, celebrated front and center each year during a special awards ceremony at KSBA’s Annual Conference, the KSBA Educational Foundation has funded a number of other public education-centered initiatives over the years. Since its establishment in 1992, the foundation has worked to empower public school districts through special technology initiatives, school safety training and unique professional development opportunities for districts and their board teams.The recent growth of the foundation has stemmed, in part, from strategic planning efforts led by its nine-member board of directors comprised of current and former school board members. In 2019, the KSBA Educational Foundation joined dozens of other nonprofits statewide, participating in its first Kentucky Gives Day. Some months later, KSBA directed proceeds from its golf scramble to benefit the First Degree Scholarship Program. The foundation has since rebranded, adopting a contemporary logo, updating its mission statement and identifying long term fundraising priorities. In 2020, the foundation launched a new website, offering an online giving option for the first time.

“I believe we have significantly raised the visibility of the foundation, the programs it supports and the means in which to give,” said KSBA Executive Director Kerri Schelling. “While it will always be closely aligned with the Kentucky School Boards Association, the foundation has established an identity all its own. Maintaining this momentum is going to take hard work and the continued support of our members, but when it comes to improving public education I know we’re up to the challenge.”

To learn more about the KSBA Educational Foundation or to make a gift, visit KSBAEF.org or email [email protected]

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