A three-year-old non-profit organization formed to boost connections between Tacoma schools, businesses and community groups is set to dissolve, following action Thursday night by the Tacoma School Board.
But the work of Tacoma 360, as the 2009 organization was known, will continue through the newly formed Foundation for Tacoma Schools, which debuted earlier this year.
The school board voted Thursday to dissolve the partnership between the school district, the City of Tacoma and Metro Parks Tacoma that had created Tacoma 360. Metro Parks commissioners and the Tacoma City Council had already passed similar resolutions.
Those votes followed a recommendation from the Tacoma 360 board, which concluded that its work could be effectively taken up by the new foundation – an entity that did not exist when Tacoma 360 came into being.
The school board also requested that any assets that return to the three government partners following dissolution of Tacoma 360 be redistributed to the foundation.
Tacoma 360 had been funded with annual contributions from all three governments – $50,000 annually from both the school district and the city, and $25,000 per year from Metro Parks.
The city has pledged to continue contributions to the foundation at the same $50,000 annual rate, for at least 2013 and 2014. Tacoma Public Schools also plans to give the foundation $50,000 annually going forward. Metro Parks does not plan to contribute, at least for the foreseeable future.
Back in 2009, when Tacoma 360 was forming, critics on the City Council had argued that it was underfunded and that it would duplicate the work of other groups.
Kurt Miller, the school board member who also served on Tacoma 360’s board, said Thursday that the three-way funding partnership had been effective. One of Tacoma 360’s projects was to inventory and create an online directory of the many community-based programs operating in Tacoma schools.
But Miller said that while Tacoma 360 was able to spur more community involvement in schools, it wasn’t set up as a fundraising organization. The Foundation for Tacoma Schools will be able to serve both functions, he said.
“The foundation has a very clear mission – to provide for the students all over Tacoma,” said parks commissioner Erik Hanberg. “They also have a lot of funding behind them…. And there was a wide feeling among the education partners that the foundation could do a better job of that alignment than what ended up being a quasi-governmental organization.”
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland — who strongly advocated for Tacoma 360 as a city councilwoman, calling it one of her “biggest accomplishments” during her campaign for mayor — partly credited Tacoma 360 for spurring the foundation’s formation.
“When we formed Tacoma 360, the Foundation for Tacoma Schools did not exist,” she said. “Now we have an organization that has a large board, more resources and it just made sense to really merge the two so that we can strengthen family and community relationships to help benefit our students.”
Councilwoman Victoria Woodards, who also helped get Tacoma 360 launched while serving as a parks commissioner, credited Tacoma 360 executive director Julia Garnett with helping to better define the agency’s mission. Garnett will continue her work as part of the foundation.
Staff writer Lewis Kamb contributed to this report.