Area business executives pooled heads earlier this month at a Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools kick-off luncheon aimed at cultivating entrepreneurial talent and leadership in the county’s students.
Established in 2010 by former Superintendent Jack Dale under the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, the nonprofit organization sees the school system as the county’s ultimate economic driver.
The launch event, which drew roughly 130 to the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner June 4, marked the culmination of three years of framework laying by the Foundation — a process that included establishing the group’s bylaws, building relationships and obtaining IRS approval for its nonprofit status said Jerry Gordon, the Foundation’s Chair and president and chief executive officer of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (FCEDA).
The speakers program included Gordon, FCPS Superintendent Karen K. Garza and Thomas M. Davis, the director of the Government Affairs Group for Deloitte.
Gordon took on the chairman role last July, around the same time that FCPS appointed Karen Garza as superintendent to succeed Dale.
He called the executive transitions and Garza’s creation of a full-time executive director position within the foundation “the perfect storm for a take-off,” noting that the Foundation needed the time to solidify its modes and logistics after its 2010 establishment before it felt comfortable hosting a “kick-off” event.
“We felt we needed to [officially]announce ourselves to the business community,” Gordon said. “Nobody seems to know that there are some very serious issues in the Fairfax County Public Schools.”
And with 840,000 new jobs coming to the area in the next few years, according to a Georgetown University report, the need to fund initiatives that would bring together businesses, philanthropists, social leaders and students to cultivate the “well-formed responsible citizens” has only become more critical to the county’s future, the Foundation holds.
“Our ability to handle growth and changing demographics will require positive action, and we need you to stand with us,” Garza told attendees during the event that identified resource and achievement issues within the county.
Where that leaves the school system’s strategic advancement arm post its kick-off event? The FCPS Foundation plans to address specific geographic areas within the county — like the 18,000 children who lack internet access at home — to supplement the county’s budget resource.
Gordon says the group has initiatives in the works to increase the availability of technology in the county’s geographic areas that currently lack it and create career academies, opportunities for learning and schools of the futures for the workforce of tomorrow.