FTEF History

We are so humbled by all that we’ve been able to do thanks to the continued and unwavering support of our alumni and community.  We look forward to another 20 years working with you to continue our mission of enhancing educational excellence. 

Our journey:

In 1992, “The Fort Thomas Foundation for Excellence in Public Education, Inc.” was founded.  This noble group raised $25,000 to benefit the Fort Thomas Independent Schools.  These visionaries formed what would be the pre-cursor to the Fort Thomas Education Foundation as we know it today.

In 2001, the group was reenergized by community members, parents and alumni and renamed the Fort Thomas Education Foundation. The goal of the Foundation was simple: To support the academic programs and projects that could not be financed through the District’s general budget in order to enhance the tradition of academic excellence. 

One of their first orders of business of the newly formed FTEF was to award a $25,000 grant to the newly built Highlands Middle School to purchase books for the library.  To date, the FTEF has awarded almost $1 million in grants to the schools in our District.  Items granted have included books, laptops, iPads, software, musical instruments, indoor tower garden, adaptive equipment for special ed, audio engineering studio, VR goggles and other innovative materials and equipment to enhance educational opportunities.

In 2001, the FTEF also established an endowment fund.  Despite meager beginnings, the dedication of our Board to sustaining our mission for future generations has resulted in a fund balance that sits above $1million.  The goal is for that fund to reach $2.5 million (or more) and use the interest to fund administrative costs and supplement grant awards so that every dollar donated can go directly back to our schools and students.  

The first FTEF dance was held in 2003 and has become a not-to-be-missed social event each Spring.  COVID forced us to take a two year hiatus for this fun event. In 2023, the annual dance was rebranded into the FTEF Parents’Night Out.

In 2005, the Campaign for Highlands was kicked-off to confront the issue of a decaying Highlands High School. Renovations to Highlands High School began in May 2006 with a 4-phase strategy. This $40,000,000, decade-long project was made possible by a successful public-private partnership between the FTIS and FTEF. The FTEF raised nearly $10 million for this project.  The result is a campus that embodies Highlands’ rich tradition while looking to the future. All facilities now include upgraded HVAC systems, wireless integration of all classrooms and offices, 100% handicap accessibility and improved safety features.

Highlands Campus Renovation

  • Phase One focused on the North Academic Building featuring upgraded classrooms, a Performing Arts Center, Mass Communications Suite and cafeteria with outdoor terrace.

  • Phase Two included a new exterior of the South Academic Building (formerly Highlands Middle School), new energy efficient windows and a 30-year roof.

  • Phase Three involved upgrades to the interior of the South Academic Building with classroom improvements, new community Fitness Center, locker rooms and a band practice room.

  • Phase Four focused on constructing the Highlands Fieldhouse and improving the gymnasium, locker rooms and new seating with seatbacks for the home team. Death Valley was transformed to now feature a fieldhouse with turf practice field, dance practice room and mezzanine level weight facility (Johnson Elementary was relocated to this area from March 2019 – July 2021 during construction of the new school on North Fort Thomas Ave). Additional parking and an outdoor practice field were also added. Gymnasium updates included an expanded lobby as well as new locker rooms, concessions area and gym floor.

In 2007, the FTEF recognized the importance of Planned Giving and introduced the 1891 Society, honoring individuals who have notified the Foundation that they have provided for them in their estate plans. Donors have the opportunity to designate gifts to the FTEF through a will, trust, insurance policy, or gift agreement, and continue to support the Foundation for generations come. Each year the 1891 Society welcomes new members who are passionate about continuing our mission of enhancing educational excellence for future generations.

In 2014, the FTEF began the Annual Sponsors program to help local companies make charitable giving more predictable in their budgets and to expand opportunities for recognition during the year. The FTEF Annual Sponsors help us cover expenses incurred for all of the fun events we hold during the year – Foundation Club, Annual Dance and others. We are thankful to ALL of our sponsors who have chosen to take advantage of our trusted, local marketing efforts to expand their reach into the community and help make a difference in our schools.

In 2016, the FTEF and HHS Alumni Association joined forces and became one organization.  We continued many special traditions like the Tail Feather Tailgate before the Homecoming Football games and the annual Alumni & Teacher of the Year Celebration honoring the contributions of one alumni and several special teachers.

 The FTEF Blue Feather Society was introduced in 2019 as a giving opportunity for donors who wish to continue their support our mission to enhance educational excellence with annual monetary gifts. Blue Feather Society members receive a gift signifying annual support and an invitation to the FTEF Holiday Party each winter.

In 2021, the FTEF celebrated 20 years of supporting educational excellence. We also raised over $600,000 for the Campaign for Johnson, which helped complete the final piece of the puzzle. Now every school building in our district matches the potential of our students.

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