The Huron Valley Schools athletic program has joined forces with the non-profit Huron Valley Education Foundation (HVEF) at the behest of the foundation’s trustees.
The 501c(3) foundation has been in existence for about a decade and was formed to offer educational and enrichment opportunities to enhance the district and community at large.
By joining the HVEF, the athletic department will benefit from cash or gift donations; the donors benefit by getting a tax write-off.
Over the last several years, data collected by the Milford Athletic Department shows the many benefits of co-curricular athletic participation. Student-athletes reportedly excel in their academics, character development, and acquire many life-long skills through their participation in athletics.
Due to revenue constraints, it has been necessary for the athletic departments to be more innovative in seeking alternative funding to maintain sports programs, given that these needs will continue to grow in the future.
Throughout the state of Michigan, participation fees have more than doubled, while other costs have escalated. Increased costs for basics like transportation leave less money available for equipment, uniforms, and supplies.
The new athletic program portion of the foundation hopes to build its endowment fund, positioning itself to provide sustainable, long-term support for future athletes.
“The foundation was created for grants,” said Milford High School Athletic Director Chris Ceresa, who spearheaded the initiative together with Lakeland Athletic Director Greg Michaels. “As we lose dollars from enrollment and revenue, and it trickles down to our athletes.”
Pay-to-play fees and gate receipts supplement revenues, but those only pay for one-third of programming, according to Ceresa.
The district offers 32 sports among the high schools and middle schools, with many sports offering freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity teams. Despite the emphasis of the athletic program, the general budget continues to dwindle as evidenced by last year’s budget that was reduced by $84,000 from the prior year, according to Ceresa.
“We don’t want to burden families and don’t want to raise gate prices because that too would impact families, so we’re looking for new way to garner revenues to provide quality programming to our kids,” Ceresa said.
Ceresa and Michaels continue to seek other funding vehicles. For example, last year they began partnering with Alternative Resources Development in selling advertising, and they are also pursuing a partnership with Excel Rehabilitation to set up a satellite office in return for providing services at no cost.
“It’s a trade,” Ceresa said. “Currently it costs us $40,000 a year to have an athletic trainer in the building to service our injuries.”
Ceresa said they may also offer opportunities to name the athletic fields in tandem with expanding advertising initiatives.
Donations to the Huron Valley Education Foundation can be sent to Ceresa or Michaels.
Checks should be made out to “HVEF — Milford Athletics” or “HVEF — Lakeland Athletics.” Donors should include their name, address and phone number and/or email so a card can be sent to them for tax purposes.