Do you remember 1985? First class postage was 20 cents, compact discs were introduced to American customers, the first website domain name was registered and – most importantly – the Upper Arlington Education Foundation was established.

Do you remember 1985? First class postage was 20 cents, compact discs were introduced to American customers, the first website domain name was registered and most importantly the Upper Arlington Education Foundation was established.

No one could possibly have predicted how dramatically our world at home, at work and in the classroom would change in 25 years. Fortunately, a group of forward-thinking members of our community had the vision to establish a foundation that would be available to support the Upper Arlington City School District. The Upper Arlington Education Foundation was incorporated on Nov. 20, 1985, as a not-for-profit organization with tax-exempt status.

Its purpose is to promote excellence in public education for the children of the Upper Arlington City Schools through the development of designated and unrestricted funds.

The foundation is structured to provide financial support for activities, programs and projects that exceed the district's budget. Since it was founded, the UAEF has received more than $3.7-million in donations and gifts and returned $2.4-million to the school district in the form of grants, scholarships and flow-through projects.

This past year has been no exception.

The UAEF was proud to partner with Barrington and Greensview's Parent-Teacher Organizations on projects in their schools. At Barrington, money was awarded for the school-wide technology initiative and for supplies for the Certified Wildlife Habitat, and at Greensview, the campus upgrade and refurbishment project received funding from the UAEF. Also at Greensview, a technology program using iPod Touches for reading intervention was launched, and the UAEF was happy to help.

The Windermere PTO established a Publishing Shop for all its students, and the UAEF provided the supplies to get them up and running. When not in the publishing shop, students at Windermere tackle engineering challenges with NXT Robotics at weekly lunchtime sessions. Funding was courtesy of the UAEF.

The foundation helped Tremont go green with its community garden that grew all summer long, and provided support to the Veteran's Day program at Jones Middle School and was proud to assist Hastings Middle School with its Outreach Project just several weeks ago.

Ninth graders at the High School received seed money from the UAEF to help with their service learning project for the Lost Boys of Sudan.

At one of the best events of the school year, the Senior Honors Assembly, where outstanding members of the graduating class are recognized and rewarded for their achievements, UAEF funds awarded scholarships to outstanding members of the Class of 2010.

Where does the money come from for these projects and scholarships? Two sources Designated Funds and Unrestricted Funds.

The UAEF has 38 designated funds that were established for a specific purpose. These make a huge impact on the students and staff each year. And when a grant request comes in that does not fit into the parameters of any of the designated funds, UAEF Trustees look to the Unrestricted Funds to support the grant. To make sure that these unrestricted funds have money available, UAEF Trustees and community volunteers hold the Golden Bear Bash each year on the Sunday night of Labor Day Weekend.

As the UAEF celebrates its silver anniversary and embarks upon the journey toward the golden, it seems appropriate to take a moment to reflect and thank the "contributors" who made the UAEF the solid and established organization that it is.

We are what we are today because we stand on the shoulders of those who served before us. Over the past 25 years, 76 community members have shown their dedication to the students and staff in the UA Schools by serving as UAEF trustees. Each and every year incoming trustees add to the "foundation" laid by the organization's original members.

UAEF fund sponsors who established designated funds are to be recognized and thanked for their commitment to and affection for the UA Schools. These designated funds make a difference every day to our students and staff.

We thank each and every donor who chose to show their confidence in our good stewardship with their financial gifts. Donors are the bridge between great ideas and reality in the classroom.

We thank the creative thinkers in our community who are looking to enhance each child's educational experience and come to the UAEF with their wonderful ideas. We are fortunate to live in a community where status quo is not acceptable and look forward to another 25 years of fantastic grant requests.

Finally, we extend a heartfelt thank you to the staff and administration of our schools. Without the level of commitment and passion they demonstrate daily, we would never be able to make the case for why our community should give more than their tax dollars to our schools.

What does the next 25 years hold? One would be foolish to even guess, and that is why is it so important that the UAEF continue to grow its assets with partners in the community.

To find out more about the UAEF and how you can get involved, please visit our website at Never has it been more important to have at the ready a pool of resources for that special project probably something that our children and grandchildren will have to teach us to use.

We are working today to make those projects of tomorrow a reality.

Julie Martin