For the past 9 months Five Acre School has been working towards becoming a nonprofit organization. In December of last year, Autumn Walsh (Director) held a meeting to share with the community her goal of establishing Five Acre School as a federal nonprofit organization with 501c3 tax status. Soon after that meeting, a group of current and former Five Acre parents became the interim board of trustees and began to meet monthly to put this goal into action. Autumn and the interim board with the incredible support of George Frandsen, our legal advisor, submitted an application for federal nonprofit status this past September. The application process can take as long as a year and in the meantime the interim board has begun to build the foundation of our nonprofit organization.
What is a nonprofit board and how will it be different from our current leadership?
Nonprofit organizations are governed by a board of trustees. The board of trustees are responsible for determining the mission and purpose of the organization, overseeing the financial health of the organization, and maintaining the legal and ethical status of the organization. It is NOT the role of the board to be involved in the daily operations and programming of the organization. Currently, all of this responsibility, including the daily operation of Five Acre School, falls to Autumn. By establishing Five Acre School as a nonprofit, the board of trustees will serve as a support and guide for our executive director in the big picture and long term planning for the school. The board will also be responsible for hiring an executive director and evaluating her work to ensure Five Acre School is meeting its mission. At this time, the interim board wishes to have Autumn continue as our executive director.
What are the benefits of nonprofit status?
Nonprofit organizations are established to serve the needs of a given community, in our case Five Acre students and their families. While the board of trustees is the governing body of the organization, it is the mission and philosophy of the organization that is most important to its success. By becoming a nonprofit we are sharing the responsibility of sustaining Five Acre School for our students, rather than placing all the burden on one person in the role of director. More tangible benefits include exemption from Federal income tax, tax-deductible donations, reduced postal rates, exemption from Federal unemployment tax, and tax-exempt financing. As a nonprofit organization, Five Acre School will be eligible to apply for education and programming grants to help further the growth and development of the school.
What is the interim board working on now?
The interim board includes Lauren Denton (Chair), Anne Kanters (Secretary), Jeff Spaulding , Paul Rynearson, Sarah Salazar-Tipton, Ashley Bierman and Tammy French. We have all been working closely for the past 9 months with Autumn to accomplish the following:
- Applying for 501c3 status (application submitted)
- Determining the vision, mission, and values for Five Acre School (approved, see below)
- Developing a three year strategic plan for Five Acre School (in process)
Five Acre School Philosophy
The interim board has voted on and approved the following philosophy
Mission: Five Acre School provides an active learning environment for children to reach their fullest potential in relationship to each other, our community, and the natural world. We foster the social, emotional, physical, artistic, and intellectual growth of the whole child.
Vision: All students in our community are empowered in every aspect of their development and have ownership over their education.
Responsiveness: We respond to each other with nurturing kindness and flexibility, giving each other the chance to succeed and take ownership of our learning and experience.
Curiosity: We encourage inquiry, allowing the learning process to remain open to the discovery of new ideas and techniques.
Compassion: We support each other’s unique perspectives, viewing differences as an opportunity to develop emotional intelligence.
Stewardship: We educate the whole person, connecting to the broader community, nature and our environment. We emphasize the importance of interconnectedness.
Community: We foster connection, embracing diversity to create a welcoming family environment.
What is a strategic plan?
A strategic plan is developed by the board of trustees every 3 to 5 years. The purpose of the plan is to review the philosophy of the organization, evaluate the current finances and programming, and create goals for the future. Our interim board is working on the development of our strategic plan. Our first step in the process was determining our philosophy (vision, mission, values) and conducting an analysis of our current programming. Many of you have already contributed to this process by completing the strategic planning survey at the beginning of the school year. We used the data from the survey to determine our philosophy and we will continue to use it as we develop our short and long-term goals.
How can you get involved?
Anyone is welcome to participate in the current work of our interim board. Our next meeting is Wednesday, November 11 at 6:30pm. Once we receive our 501c3 status, we will be recruiting and nominating our official board of trustees.
We encourage you to reach out to our interim board members with any comments or suggestions and we thank you in advance for your support .
Lauren Denton, Anne Kanters, Jeff Spaulding, Paul Rynearson, Sarah Salazar-Tipton, Ashley Bierman, and Tammy French