Engaging with the Community for a Greater Good

By Tara Fort

In just five years, the Prescott Unified School District Education Foundation (PUSD EF) continues their mission to support the District and its students through financial and material contributions provided by generous members of the community. Those instrumental in leading the way to achieve those goals are Executive Director of the PUSD EF Tami Phillips and newcomer Alumni Engagement Coordinator VISTA through the AmeriCorps program Evan Hocter. The collaboration of Phillips, a 35-year fundraising veteran and Hocter, a recent graduate from Kent State, provides the perfect balance. Says Phillips, “Evan and I work literally side by side so it’s a great alliance for both of us. While I have institutional knowledge, Evan brings many new fresh ideas to expand the efforts of this new alumni network.” Hocter adds, “Tami has been a wonderful mentor to me through her non-profit experience. We come from different backgrounds, but we are always able to find common ground and bounce ideas off each other.”

Hocter will have a full plate in this new role and adds that efforts to engage with— and find— alumni, took off quickly. “Once we started the Facebook Group to create a series of events and outreach efforts pre-COVID, we immediately connected to nearly 2,200 alums—with 43% living in the greater Prescott area.”  Though COVID presented some challenges in creating in-person engagement events for alumni and the PUSD EF, the duo persevered during the past several months through ZOOM meetings and refreshing creativity. Says Phillips, “While normally the PUSD EF would have hosted a larger community event in one setting, this year our Sip and Savor fundraiser featured social distancing and limited gatherings at 15 homes throughout the Prescott area. Thanks to the assistance of the Prescott High School Media Lab, the event was live streamed at participating homes and ‘attendees’ were encouraged to bid on auction items donated throughout the year.”

Since the mission of the PUSD EF is to link community and alumni resources with the needs of the schools to enhance and complement the existing and future offerings, it is easy to see how the joint efforts of both will support the greater goal. Phillips adds, “Evan’s position as the Alumni Engagement Coordinator brings that connection to our large family of PHS alumni to help build a system that will not just bring alumni closer together, but ultimately benefit the school district and their teachers and students. It’s a beneficial way for alumni to continue their involvement in a district that has served the community so well over the years.”