LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Jefferson County Public Education Foundation soon will be officially known as Future Up, Advancing Louisville’s Public Schools as it looks to update its image, Executive Director Sam Corbett said Tuesday.

The new name has been in the works for about a year, and Corbett said the group is working with Louisville-based Doe-Anderson Advertising on the project.

Since joining the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation about three years ago, Corbett said he’s noticed some confusion about the nonprofit’s function based on its name, which has been in place since the foundation launched in 1983. He said the name implied that the group is an arm of Jefferson County Public Schools, that he is an employee of JCPS and that the organization is a grant-making foundation.

“We’re always trying to raise money, but we’re not a grant-making foundation per se,” Corbett said.

The group’s website has already been updated to reflect the name change, but Corbett said a redesigned version will be rolled out soon.

While the name that’s been in place for more than 30 years may be changing, Corbett says the nonprofit’s mission of supporting JCPS and its “very close relationship” with the district won’t.

The group raises money and provides support for a number of educational initiatives in the community, such as helping JCPS craft a master plan once it was named part of the Ford Next Generation Learning initiative and providing scholarships for teachers and graduating students.

“We’re trying to raise funds to support programs that JCPS will implement,” Corbett said. “In addition, we work with other agencies and community groups trying to raise money where they’re providing support and programs with JCPS students and JCPS schools.”

Corbett said he also acts as a conduit, connecting community groups that want to help the district with the appropriate JCPS department.

It’s unclear exactly how the state’s budget will affect JCPS since lawmakers are just starting work on the two-year spending plan, but Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget proposal could mean about $25 million less for the district. Bevin protected the per-student funding for public schools, but other areas like the state’s share of district transportation costs, textbooks and professional development for teachers were lessened or cut outright.

If lawmakers ultimately cut some funding for public education, Corbett said that could emerge as a fundraising pitch for Future Up.

“I think it highlights the need to reach out to the community, be it individuals, companies, foundations, whomever, to invite them and encourage them to consider supporting some of these areas that potentially there aren’t as many resources today as there have been in the past,” he said. “I would say it changes the landscape a little bit.”

Another change on the horizon for public education in the Louisville area is the opening of charter schools, likely during the 2019-20 school year.

Charters will get the same per-pupil funding as their traditional counterparts, which means they’ll be considered public schools. Corbett said the Future Up board has recently started talks on its role in supporting charter schools that open in Louisville.

“We’re not to the point yet where I could really answer that, but if you recognize that, as our new name says, we’re advancing Louisville’s public schools and charter schools are public schools, it’s something that we have to talk about,” he said.

Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and kwheatley@wdrb.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.

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