The Onondaga Central School Education Foundation, Inc., was established in 1984. Its primary mission has been to provide financial assistance to deserving OCS graduates. Students are selected to receive awards based on their academic record, their academic potential, their service to the school, and their service to the community.
In 1986 the OCSEF established a policy of saving a portion of its annual earnings. Those earnings were designated for investment into an endowment fund, the purpose of which would be to provide scholarships not only for current-year seniors but also for graduating seniors far into the future.
Every May the OCSEF establishes dollar amounts for its awards, and those amounts are based on the previous year’s fundraising and investment growth. The OCSEF does not use the endowment itself to fund the awards, a policy which ensures that the endowment will not get spent down.
For the first eight years, the endowment was invested in CD’s, but in 1994, the Foundation’s Board of Directors, following the recommendations of its independent investment advisor, began investing in a diversified selection of mutual funds.
A number of factors have contributed to the steady growth of the endowment since 1994. First, the investments have been successful and fulfilled their objectives. In addition, the OCS faculty and administrative teams have supported the Foundation financially. Also, the OCS community, alumni, and friends have been generous in their support of phone-a-thons, solicitations, and the annual golf tournament.
In addition to the original OCSEF endowment, many generous people have funded their own endowment funds over the years. Gordon Cameron, a former OCS District business manager, established the first named endowment fund; Greg Moore was instrumental in establishing the Moore-Powlesland endowment; Jonna (Parsons) Lewandowski (OCS ’67) and Glenn Lewandowski have funded an annual scholarship for the past ten years; and Gary and Jean Keehfus (OCS ’62) have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to back the Keehfus-Delaney scholarship. Other endowments have been funded by Len Fellows (OCS ’65); the family of Anne Miller Lohff; the Howe family; the OCS Class of ’65; Marilyn and David Dominick; and most recently by the family of Jim Delaney.
In September of 1990, the OCS endowment fund was $3,483. That previous June, 1990, two graduates each received a $500. award. The current treasurer is pleased to report that the total amount held by the OCSEF including its original endowment fund, all subsequent endowments, cash, and checking accounts has surpassed $400,000. In 2019, graduating seniors received more than $26,000—as the endowment continues to grow.