Donor Spotlight

+ BGHS ALum who donated $1 million

+ Meet former student Rosalava Alcantar

Rolling Meadows High School graduate Rosalva Alcantar is pursuing a college degree in health sciences, an educational experience she attributes to hard work—and a helping hand from the District 214 Education Foundation just when she needed it most. Alcantar, who spoke recently at the fifth annual Foundation for the Future Golf Open and Reception, an annual event supporting student innovation and success beyond the scope of conventional public funding, says that even small gifts can be life-changing. “It truly took an immense weight off my shoulders,” she says of the Foundation’s financial support. “I don’t have enough words to say how thankful I am. Thanks to my donor, I didn’t have to worry about school supplies and I could just focus on learning how to become a [certified nursing assistant].

“I’m here to tell you that every donation helps and to not be discouraged by the amount you choose to help with,” she adds.
Alcantar enrolled in High School District 214’s Health Science Pathway during her freshman year of high school. She also applied for the Harper Promise Scholarship program, which offers students the opportunity to earn up to two years of free college tuition. In exchange, the student is required to maintain solid grades and a good attendance record, graduate on time and perform community service. By her junior year, she was working at a part-time job while going to high school, taking two AP courses and three dual credit courses and performing community service. But in addition to school and work pressures, she faced unexpected financial hurdles while taking her CNA training that year.

Alcantar comes from a working-class family of six. While her father puts in long hours at work, his company doesn’t offer health insurance. She and her siblings were covered by Medicaid but her parents were uninsured.

So, when her mother needed to see a specialist for a potentially fatal condition, the family soon found itself with medical debt. A short while later, her father needed emergency medical attention, raising that debt even higher. Also, that year, Alcantar’s father began earning just enough to disqualify his children for Medicaid. Despite reapplying, they ended up getting only partial coverage. “It was a really stressful semester,” she says. “All of the money that I was making at work was going straight to the medical bills for both my mother and father.”

Then she found out what she would need for her CNA course—items such as scrubs, waterproof shoes, a watch, a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff and a gait belt.

“I [also] needed a long list of vaccines and tests in order to still be eligible to stay in the CNA class,” she says. “None of it was covered from my medical card so it all ended up being paid out of pocket. I [spent] a little over $300 just on those.”

As for the necessary equipment, Alcantar asked her teacher if she could borrow items from the school. Instead, her teacher referred her to her counselor.

“[The counselor] reached out to the Education Foundation, which fortunately chose to help me,” she says. “This foundation truly helps everyone. The Foundation reached out to sponsors. Someone decided to step in and help me.”

Thanks to that donor, Alcantar completed the CNA course and passed the state exam to become a certified CNA. Today, she is working toward her associate’s degree at Harper and plans to transfer to a four-year college her junior year.

“Unfortunately, unexpected things can happen in anyone’s life,” she says. “It happened to me. Thanks to the Education Foundation, I've managed to get back on my feet. If it wasn’t for my donor, I wouldn’t have been able to get as far as I did in my education journey. I’m forever grateful for my donor … for making such a huge impact in my life.”

+ Meet Legacy Society Member Suzanne Sharer

Suaznne Sharer is an Arlington High School graduate, a proud High School District 214 retiree, a lifelong Arlington Heights resident and an active volunteer with the District 214 Education Foundation, helping plan major alumni events.

She's also building a legacy.

Through a bequest in their will, Suzanne and her husband, Steve -- a regular at the Foundation's Golf Open -- recently became the inaugural members of the Foundation's Legacy Society, building the promise of future funding for success.

"This District has given so much to me," Suzanne told the Foundation Board at a meeting in March. "This was such a wonderful way to give back. It made sense. I am able to make a pledge now that will help District 214's future."

The Legacy Society empowers individuals to include gifts to the Foundation in a will or trust. Bequests can be unrestricted, or directed to a specific purpose; you also can indicate a specific amount or a percentage or your remaining balance. Benefits of this type of giving are numerous. Your assets remain in your control during your lifetime; you can modify your gift at any point; you can direct your gift to an area that is particularly meaningful to you; and, under current tax law, there is no upper limit on the estate tax deduction for your charitable bequests.

To learn more, contact the Foundation Office at 847-718-7708. If you already have included the Foundation in your will, please let us know by calling that same number. You also may email Dawn Curran at the Foundation: dawn.curran@d214.org

+ Donor Spotlight: Anonymous Retiree

An educator who spent 32 years teaching in High School District 214 was so compelled by the impact of the District 214 Education Foundation that he gave back -- significantly.

In spring 2018, he provided $15,000 in funding to the Foundation's general fund, for use in supporting student success, innovation and lifelong learning beyond the limitations of conventional funding for public education. The money came from a family foundation launched after his parent's death; his goal always was to impact the community using those funds.

"We realize not everyone has been as fortunate as us," said the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, "and we want to help students with financial needs to achieve their goals in life.”

He specifically appreciates the Foundation's funding of Advanced Placement tests for students who can't afford them, opening the door to thousands of dollars in early college credits. He says he knows the importance of such testing to helping students achieve postsecondary success.

In addition to his years working in the school district, the retiree is involved as an active member of District 214 Education Foundation committees. He has been able to watch and live the Foundation's mission, see it grow and see the funds positively impact student lives.

“We like that the Foundation can help students achieve their life goals," he said. "We hope to contribute to the future development of District 214 students as they pursue their dreams.” There are many opportunities for students, he notes, that come from a little encouragement, the knowledge that someone believes in them, and the funding to make a dream happen.

He considers he gives part of his civic duty - but, as importantly, an investment both in District 214 students and in the entire community in a time when one in four students live in poverty. He urges others to take a closer look at the Foundation and consider a contribution.

"You will see the kinds of great things they are doing for our students," he says. "And hopefully, their success stories will resonate and prompt others to follow the example of giving."

+ Meet Dr. Carla Koretsky

From performing as lead violinist of the Wheeling High School orchestra to pursuing a career that eventually led her to a position as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Western Michigan University, Dr. Carla Koretsky has embodied the spirit of District 214.

Her combined passion for music and earth studies led her to achieve unprecedented accomplishments, and that success grew out of her initial years at Wheeling, where teachers and fellow students fostered her future career as an educator and influencer.

As a result, Carla, along with other alumni from Wheeling's Class of 1989, has created a campaign to give back to current students. Here, she reflects on what brought her to her position at Western Michigan University and her plans for the “30 for 30th” campaign.

Describe your involvement as a student at Wheeling High School.

I played the violin in orchestra for four years, and was in Strolling Strings for three years. I also was in the District 214 orchestra for two years and played in the pit orchestra for a couple of musical theater productions.

How did your experiences from Wheeling shape your college career?

I was interested in chemistry from my terrific experiences with Mr. “Fish” Fischbach and Mr. Bauder, who taught an amazing AP chemistry course. They definitely influenced my choice of major and also my career, which has been in geochemistry (chemistry applied to earth/environmental systems).

Describe your path to becoming a professor and a Dean of Arts and Sciences.

After I completed my Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins, I moved to Atlanta to take a postdoctoral position at Georgia Tech. I worked there for about three years, doing research in salt marsh systems off the coast of Georgia. Two years ago, I took a position as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Western Michigan, home to 26 departments in the humanities, social sciences and sciences. We have about 5,000 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students enrolled.

Tell us about your plans for the $30K for 30th Reunion campaign.

Several members of the Class of ’89 have talked about making a gift for a long time, and I think now the time is right. Many of us had an exceptional experience at Wheeling High School, both in and out of the classroom, and many have had very successful careers. We want to give back now and help other students have the means to get the same education and experience we did. We are in a ‘quiet’ phase now, looking for a few alumni from our class to pledge matching funds for the campaign. Once we have that in place, we will do our best through social networks to raise the $30K needed for an endowment before our 30th reunion this coming fall.

I am really looking forward to fully launching the campaign!

How do you hope this endowment will impact the students of District 214?

We are writing an agreement through the District 214 Education Foundation dictating that the funds be used to support things like Advanced Placement test fees as well as costs associated with participation on co-curricular/extracurricular activities like music, theater, athletics, Science Olympiad and other student groups that were such an important part of our experience. My AP classes were exceptional, and I was happy to see that the Education Foundation is paying for AP test fees for students with financial need. From my work as a higher education administrator, I know how expensive college is and how much having AP credit can help undergraduate students to complete their degrees more quickly and at less expense. I don’t want an AP test fee to be a barrier for any student who has worked hard and gained the skills.

The District 214 Education Foundation, www.214foundation.org, empowers giving from alumni, individuals and corporations in ways that will fund the future for our current students. To learn more or discuss opportunities to give, visit the website or email erin.brooks@d214.org.