Foundation celebrates 30 years supporting Amherst Schools

By Jason Hawk -

What started in 1986 with a $500 pledge has since grown into a multi-million-dollar undertaking.

The Amherst Schools Educational Foundation is celebrating its 30th anniversary, “a milestone year” for the city’s students, said Duane Neidert.

Roy Schaeffer provided the start-up capital for the foundation, which supports academic undertakings in the Amherst district and scholarships for graduating seniors.

Over the past three decades, his gift has grown through donations. Today, the foundation sits on a $2 million investment.

That cash isn’t touched, said Neidert, who serves as president of the ASEF. It generates interest — about $80,000 every year — and only those earnings are used to fund pilot programs, classroom innovations, supplemental textbooks, technology purchases, and for training to sharpen teachers’ skills.

Most recently, the foundation committed $200,000 to gut the Amherst Steele High School media center and resurrect it as the Creative Learning Center.

The space does away with the library concept and provides room for students to use high-tech tools to create presentations and work together on projects just like they will in the workforce.

More than 20 scholarships are granted each year to college-bound Comets, some for financial need, others for academic merit, some for specific career paths, and more for the arts or athletics.

This month, residents living in the district can expect to receive mailers promoting the Amherst Schools Educational Foundation. Neidert said part of that push is urging families dealing with estate planning to take advantage of services the foundation offers.

The foundation is also planning a dine-to-donate fundraiser all day on Saturday, Dec. 24 at the Brew Kettle on Church Street. A portion of each bill will go to the ASEF.

For more information, visit the ASEF page at or call the Amherst board of education office at 440-988-4406.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk