Bibb teachers have wish lists. The school district now has a way to fulfill them.


Grant Blankenship, Georgia Public Broadcasting

Chiquita Dinkins teaches a unit on photosynthesis to students at Northeast High School in Macon. Dinkins, who was head cheerleader at Northeast as a student in the 1980s, is one of 18 alumni teachers at the school.

A cleaning station where special needs students can wash their clothes at school, spray deodorant and black out paper for a high school dance class or bean bags and wobble chairs for an elementary school classroom.

These are among items on wish lists of Bibb County Schools teachers who are among thousands of other educators using, an online crowdfunding website where people can give money to help buy things for classrooms that might not otherwise be available to students.

There will soon be another avenue for teachers to request money to pay for items like these.

For the third time in 30 years, a nonprofit has been established to allow the Bibb County School District to receive charitable donations.

The Bibb County Education Foundation Inc., created in June 2021, will celebrate its inaugural campaign in coming months, said Lori Rodgers, Assistant Superintendent for District Effectiveness and Federal Programs for the district.

The nonprofit was created after the district was invited by a bank to apply for a grant but was ineligible because it lacked nonprofit status.

“In completing the application it asked for our 501(c)3 status and we didn’t have one,” Rodgers said.

The new nonprofit will allow the district to accept donations to spend on items such as gift cards for teacher incentives, scholarship endowments, pizza parties, unique projects and other items for which the district is prohibited from spending state and federal money.

There have been several prior similar efforts. For one reason or another, none have lasted long.

The most recent example was in 2011 when the Bibb County Public Schools Foundation Inc. was founded. It was administratively dissolved by the state in 2016, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s website.

Charles Richardson, former board member on the nonprofit, said that effort was tainted.

“That was during the Dallemand days,” Richardson said, referring to disgraced former schools superintendent Romain Dallemand who was sentenced to federal prison for defrauding the school district of millions of dollars. “Let’s just say the water was pretty poisoned and it just never got off the ground.”

The Community Foundation of Central Georgia was to be the pass-through nonprofit entity for the Bibb County Public Schools Foundation Inc., but no donations were ever made.

Kathryn Dennis, president of the Community Foundation, said that effort was “a noble failure.”

“It sounded like a good idea that didn’t take off,” Dennis said. “From the Community Foundation’s point of view, we closed it because there was no activity in the fund.”

An earlier effort also ended in administrative dissolution after some initial support from local CEOs and corporations. The Public Education Fund of Bibb County was created in 1995.

Teachers applied for grants for classroom projects through the Public Education Fund of Bibb County in the ‘90s. A few items it paid for included: an outdoor classroom at the since-closed Weir Elementary school; a school banking project at Williams Elementary School to teach students how to open bank accounts, calculate interest and made deposits; exercise equipment at the now-closed Butler Center for children with intellectual abilities, according to The Telegraph archives.

Dennis said she recalled that effort lasted about five or six years. The nonprofit was an arm of an effort called “Macon 2000,” an organization founded in 1992 by the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce with goals of improving public education and attracting businesses to town. Macon 2000 had the support of CEOs and some of the county’s largest corporations.

The Public Education Fund of Bibb County “started a fund at the Community Foundation to make grants to teachers,” Dennis said. “It languished, and I guess it just – I don’t know when Macon 2000 folded, but the fund, it quit raising money and paying things out.”

The Community Foundation handled the administrative filings with the state for the The Public Education Fund of Bibb County. It stopped filing paperwork on behalf of the nonprofit and it was administratively dissolved by the state, slumped by the 2008 economic recession.

The remaining balance in the account for the now-dissolved nonprofit is still held by the Community Foundation, Dennis said. The Community Foundation will pay out 4% of the balance annually to The Bibb County Education Foundation Inc. Dennis said she needed clearance from a lawyer before disclosing the account’s balance.

The Community Foundation is working with the new Bibb Schools’ nonprofit to establish long-term endowments for student scholarships while the foundation will handle short-term grants itself, Dennis said.

Dennis said she is hopeful the new nonprofit for Bibb Schools will last, particularly since the district’s leadership is behind it.

“I think that this school district and the community are aligned and working together so nobody is in a silo doing anything anymore,” she said. “The new foundation is coming from the school district. I think it’ll keep its legs longer.”

The Bibb County Education Foundation Inc. is in the process of getting its 501(c)3 status approved by the Internal Revenue Service. Its board of directors includes Rodgers, Bibb school board members Juawn Jackson and Lisa Garrett, schools spokeswoman Stephanie Hartley and former district Chief Financial Officer Ron Collier.

The foundation is accepting donations but is still in the process of setting up a formal website and logo, Hartley said.

To contact reporter Laura Corley, call 478-301-5777 or email her at [email protected].