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Our Mission

Our mission is to advance excellence, create champions and build strong community support for lasting change in Oklahoma City Public Schools.

Our History

The Foundation's proud story.

In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education released the report A Nation At Risk: The Imperative For Educational Reform. The report stated that “…the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.”

In the aftermath of the report, public school foundations began forming across the nation. The Oklahoma City Public Schools administration and school board selected a steering committee of 13 citizens to determine the feasibility of forming a collaboration designed to improve the quality of the school district. As a result, the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools was established in 1984.

Ray Potts, the Foundation’s first chairman, and its governing body of 22 trustees laid the groundwork for many of the Foundation’s lasting collaborations with the district. In 1985, the first Wall of Fame Humanitarian Awards Dinner was held as a fundraiser for public education. It was quickly followed in 1986 with the first Spring Honors Luncheon, now known as Stars of Education. What would become an annual event was held to honor outstanding educators, students and volunteers. It was this event where the Foundation’s first grants were awarded. By the 1990s, the Foundation’s role in creating a bridge between the community and the district was firmly established. The first student scholarships were awarded in 1993 and Partners in Education launched in 1994. These milestones were quickly followed by the introduction of the first TEAM campaign in 1995 and the debut of A+ Arts Spectacular! in 1998, which has led to many Arts in Education initiatives.

It was in the late 1990s that a diverse group of civic, business and community leaders formed Project KIDS (Keep Improving District Schools), led by local philanthropist Jean Gumerson and attorney Bruce Day. The committee led a massive education reform effort driven through a process of community involvement. A collaboration between the City of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City Public Schools, the Board of Education and the Foundation, Project KIDS’ final report, Building a Learning City, gave specific recommendations for improving learning, facilities, fiscal responsibility, governance and developing and maintaining community involvement. MAPS for Kids (Metropolitan Area Public Schools) brought the funding necessary for capital improvements detailed in the Project KIDS report. In 2009, the Foundation revisited the Project KIDS report, assessing progress toward its goals and issuing recommendations aimed at helping the district’s academic operations catch-up with the construction program’s success.

In November 2014, The Foundation launched a partnership with DonorsChoose to connect donors directly to local classrooms. We offer support for OKCPS teachers whose projects meet our criteria. In 2015, support from The Foundation’s allowed the successful Urban Teacher Preparation Academy program to expand. It provides valuable tools to teachers entering the urban school environment. The Partners in Action initiative was formed in 2015 to connect community partners to classrooms. Our partners range from large corporations to small businesses and churches. We launched the Bilingual Teacher Pipeline Project in January 2016 to help bilingual paraprofessionals from Oklahoma City Public Schools attend college to become certified teachers. In 2016 we assisted in promoting and communicating the necessity of passing a $180 million bond to maintain OKCPS schools, which passed with a super majority.

Today, the Foundation continues its ongoing effort to develop and support programs that improve education for the children of Oklahoma City and to elevate its critical role in connecting the resources of the community to the needs of students and teachers in Oklahoma City Public Schools.

Board Leadership

"Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others." - Jack Welch

Claudia San Pedro, SONIC, America’s Drive-In

Brent Hensley, KOCO-TV

Vice Chair
Cristina F. McQuistion, OGE Energy Corporation

Past Chair
Percy Kirk, Cox Communications

Bryan Coleman, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Mary Mélon, Foundation for OKCPS

2021-2022 Board of Directors
Christine Berney
Stephen G. Butler
Tana Cashion
Jason Constable
Wayland Cubit
Rafael Garcia
Kevin Gordon
AJ Griffin
Charles Holland
Tim McLaughlin
Cathy O’Connor
Todd Pauley
Sarah Roberts
Glenna Tanenbaum
Valerie Thompson
Miles Tolbert

Advisory Board
Jeremiah Buettner
Mark Burson
Valerie Couch
Frank Franzese
Nathaniel Harding
Christina Hoehn
Marlon James
James Johnson
David Kimmel
Joy LaBar
Rusty N. LaForge
Justin Lawrence
Jenny Love Meyer
Megan Muir
Xavier Neira
Josh Roche
Tony Shinn
Nathan Shirley
Kent Sparks
Tommy Thompson
Brooke Townsend
Jeff Trachtenberg
Gary Tredway
Subha Varahan
Richard Walford
Johnny Whitfield, Jr.

Ex-Officio Members
J.D. Baker for Mayor Holt
Drew Dugan, Greater OKC Chamber of Commerce
David Holt, Mayor, City of Oklahoma City
Chair Paula Lewis, OKCPS Board of Education
Superintendent Sean McDaniel, OKCPS


Young professionals supporting OKCPS

YP4Kids is a young professionals’ organization dedicated to investing in the lives of OKCPS students. The group is an integral part of The Foundation and plays an important role in a variety of community projects. One such effort was installing an outdoor basketball court at Hawthorne Elementary to replace an overgrown parking lot. YP4Kids also coordinates the annual Golf Tournament for Oklahoma City Teachers, with proceeds benefitting teacher projects through our partnership with DonorsChoose.

YP4Kids helps groom more than 30 of our city’s future leaders and sparks their passion for public education. The group expands The Foundation’s efforts to advance excellence, create champions and build strong community support for lasting change in OKCPS. If you are interested in getting involved with YP4Kids, contact Nic Durham.

President`s Letter

A message from Mary

2021 Wall of Fame Humanitarian Award Honorees Announced

Like everything last year, The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools’ Wall of Fame Humanitarian Awards event looked different. The gala was cancelled and our four honorees came from a newly designated “unsung heroes” category. This year, we’ve gone back to our traditional, high profile Oklahoma City Public Schools alumni honorees, but liked the unsung hero category so much that we’ve kept it.

Our honorees this year are:

Judge Robert Bacharach is a graduate of John Marshall High School. He serves as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Judge Bacharach was previously a Shareholder at Crowe and Dunlevy, where he often volunteered to perform pro bono work and in the community. In 1999, he joined the Western District of Oklahoma as a federal magistrate judge, and served in that capacity until he was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve in his current seat.

Hal Smith is a graduate of U.S. Grant High School. He founded and owns Hal Smith Restaurant Group, which operates more than 60 restaurants in seven states, employing more than 6,000 people. Smith began his career in the restaurant industry while attending the University of Oklahoma and working at Across the Street Restaurant. In 1973, he joined Steak & Ale Restaurant Corporation and ultimately became chairman and CEO. In 1992, he founded Hal Smith Restaurant Group. Along with his wife Sandy, Smith founded the Norman Youth Foundation to support Oklahoma youth-oriented charities.

Dr. Marvin Williams is a graduate of Douglass High School. He serves as Professor, Section of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of OB-GYN at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. He began his career as an active duty U.S. Army physician, which included tours of duty in the United States, Korea and Iraq. He has served as OUHSC’s Medical director and then as Director of Clinical Services. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he remained on the front lines of women’s health, regularly caring for patients in hospital and clinical environments. He has dedicated his life to public service and proudly credits his OKCPS education as the initial catalyst for his career.

Anna King is the recipient of the 2021 Unsung Hero award. She is a graduate of Emerson High School and was recently elected president of the National Parent Teacher Association and will take office later this year. She has over 20 years of leadership experience at all levels of PTA, including Oklahoma PTA President. She has been a tireless advocate for children in Oklahoma and believes everything is possible for all children through inclusive work with all families and communities across the country.

The Wall of Fame Humanitarian Awards program is in its 37th year. It was started in 1984, by the Foundation’s first Board Chair Ray Potts.


Committed to transparency

Our Staff

Seeking success for Oklahoma City's children

Our Partners

Thank you to our community partners! Together we are helping improve education.

Visionary Partner
Champion Partner
Innovate Partners
Achieve Partners
Impact Partners
Align Partners

Contact Us

Send us an email or give us a call

431 West Main Street, Suite E
Oklahoma City, OK 73102

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