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 Oakland Schools, covering the gap between decreasing tax revenues and much-needed educational programs.
The Oakland Schools Education Foundation (OSEF) was incorporated in May 1999. It’s purpose was the receiving and disbursing of funds, property and gifts for the benefit of Oakland Schools. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson agreed to serve as Chairperson of OSEF.
At the first meeting of OSEF in January of 2000, trustees were appointed: 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. Steps were taken to become a tax-exempt charity. Garry Carley was elected the first President of the foundation.
The first year, OSEF focused on program planning and funding strategies. 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 today.
In 2003, OSEF focused support on the Global Trade Mission and global initiatives, and the Foundation adopted these as core programs. The OCCRA program began its long-standing partnership with the DTE Foundation. In addition, a non-voting seat on the Foundation’s Board was also added for a member of the Oakland Schools Board of Education.
In 2004, Dr. Vickie Markavitch joined Oakland Schools as Superintendent and named Vice President of Administrative Services of OSEF. In January 2005, the Foundation began supporting Oakland Schools Early Childhood Development programs, focusing specifically on early literacy.
The Foundation expanded support to the Oakland Schools Outstanding Teacher of the Year, the Support Person of the Year Award for outstanding support staff, and began working on other outreach and marketing efforts. The first Annual Great Steak Out fundraising dinner was held in 2006.
In 2008, following eight years of outstanding service to the Foundation, President Garry Carley was voted “President Emeritus.” John Landis was elected President.
Executive Director Transition
In 2010, Sherry Kuchon became the Executive Director OSEF, a position she held until June 2011. During this time, the DENSO Oakland Schools Foundation, which was founded in 1991 to provide scholarships funded by DENSO International, was rolled into OSEF.
Ryan Bladzik was named Executive Director in April 2011. In early 2012, OSEF hosted the first Teacher/Business Leader Exchange Program, pairing teachers with business professionals for an experience-sharing opportunity. In addition, OSEF began shifting its focus to providing wide-spread support for all of Oakland Schools educational and enrichment programs.
Dr. Sherry McGee was named Executive Director in April 2014. Dr. McGee had a strong background in education & marketing as well as experience in fund development, strategic planning and public policy advocacy.
In 2016, Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson became the Superintendent of Oakland Schools. That same year, Andrea Berry, CMP was named Executive Director of OSEF. As a Certified Meeting Professional, Mrs. Berry brought a wealth of knowledge and background in fundraising, event planning and program management.
OSEF expanded its scholarship program, raising funds through a Scholarships for Success gala held in April 2017. Students are now able to use scholarships to attend college, trade school or an apprenticeship program.
In 2017, OSEF took over hosting the regional Scripps National Spelling Bee for Oakland County.
In 2019, OSEF introduced the Classroom Library and zSpace Computer projects.