History of the Oakland Schools Education Foundation

In late 1998, a group of civic and educational leaders came together to create a non-profit foundation that would serve to provide support for the Oakland Intermediate School District (Oakland Schools), covering the gap between decreasing tax revenues and much-needed educational programs.

The Oakland Schools Education Corporation was incorporated in May of 1999 with the purpose of receiving and disbursing funds, property and gifts of any kind exclusively for the benefit of the Oakland Intermediate School District. About a week later, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson agreed to serve as Chairperson of the Foundation.

At the first meeting of the Foundation in January of 2000, trustees were appointed to guide and direct the Foundation’s affairs: Garry Carley, Thomas Feuring, Ruth Hairston, David Hay, L. Brooks Patterson, James Redmond, Clifford Snyder and John Voorhorst. Barbara Hoffman was introduced as the interim Director for the Foundation and steps were taken to be recognized as a tax-exempt charity by the Internal Revenue Service. Garry Carley was elected the first President of the Foundation.

The first year focused on program planning and funding strategies, and, by the end of 2000, the Oakland County Competitive Robotics Association was adopted as the Foundation’s flagship program, a support partnership that has lasted through the present.

In 2003, the Foundation focused support on the Global Trade Mission and global initiatives, and the Foundation adopted these as core programs. The OCCRA program also began its long-standing partnership with the DTE Foundation, providing $32,000 in support of the county robotics competition. A non-voting seat on the Foundation’s Board of Trustees was also added for a member of the Oakland Schools Board of Education.

In 2004, Dr. Vickie Markavitch joined Oakland Schools as superintendent and was named Vice President of Administrative Services of the Foundation. In January of 2005 the Foundation undertook support of Oakland Schools Early Childhood Development programs, focusing specifically on early literacy.

The Foundation expanded support for Oakland Schools Outstanding Teacher of the Year, the Betty Campion Award for outstanding support staff, and began working on other outreach and marketing efforts. The first Annual “Great Steak Out” fundraising gala, held on the eve of the Woodward Dream Cruise, was held in 2006.

In 2008, following eight years of outstanding service to the Foundation, President Garry Carley was voted as “President Emeritus” of the Foundation and John Landis was elected as President.

In 2010, Sherry Kuchon was contracted as the part-time Executive Director of the Foundation, which she held until June of 2011. During this time, the DENSO Oakland Schools Foundation, which was founded in 1991 to provide scholarships funded by DENSO International, was rolled into the Oakland Schools Education Foundation, providing another core support program for the Foundation. The Foundation adopted a 3-year strategic plan in late 2010.

Ryan Bladzik was named Executive Director in April 2011. In early 2012, the Foundation hosted the first Teacher – Business Leader Exchange Program, pairing Outstanding Teacher of the Year nominees with business professionals in Southeast Michigan for an experience-sharing opportunity. The Foundation also began shifting its strategic focus to providing wide-spread support for all of Oakland Schools educational and enrichment programs, including Career-Focused Education, the Oakland Schools Technical Campuses, Early Childhood and Special Education, as well its long-term core programs.

Dr. Sherry McGee was named Executive Director in April of 2014. Dr. McGee has a strong background in education and marketing, and experience in fund development, strategic planning and public policy advocacy.

In January 2016, Andrea Berry, CMP was named Executive Director. As a Certified Meeting Professional, Mrs. Berry brings a wealth of knowledge and background in fundraising, event planning and program management.