Through inspired philanthropy and community support, the APS Education Foundation seeks to make a real difference in the lives of students and teachers of Albuquerque Public Schools.
The APS Education Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization established for promoting private support of the district and its students. In partnership with Albuquerque Public Schools, we promote and garner financial and in-kind resources to provide students with the opportunity to succeed. We also mobilize resources and develop community partnerships to support excellence in APS.
The Albuquerque Public Schools Foundation was established in 1995 when a national group wanted to “gift” the district with funds for teacher professional development. The Foundation was formed as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation in order to accept and manage this donation.
Today, the APS Education Foundation solicits, receives and manages private donations which fund a wide variety of programs and services within the Albuquerque Public School system. Since 2010, the Foundation has worked to provide money for in-classroom grants through a program called the Horizon Awards. By the end of the 2015-16 school year, we will have placed more than $1.5 million into classrooms and schools through APS in a five-year period. This year, we plan to grant close to $500,000 to help students learn and teachers teach.
Private support often makes the difference between excellence and mediocrity in public education. Local taxes and state support provide the basic needs for our schools, but through the years this funding has not been able to keep pace in helping to provide for the best possible education for all students. APS is committed to lessening the drop out rate, improving student achievement and supporting well rounded educational curricula for all students regardless of their personal or economic situation. Private support has been crucial to student success at APS.
Phone: (505) 881-0841 ext. 1
Phill Casaus has headed the Foundation and its fundraising efforts since March 2009. Casaus spent most of his career in journalism, working as a sports writer, reporter, columnist and assistant sports editor at the Albuquerque Journal from 1978-1997. He then moved to the Albuquerque Tribune, where he served as deputy sports editor, city editor, managing editor, and editor from 1997-2008. He served as as Senior Editor for Local News at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver before returning to Albuquerque in 2009.
Casaus, a product of Albuquerque Public Schools, graduated from Sandia High School in 1981 and the University of New Mexico in 1986. His wife, Kathy, is a staff member at E.G. Ross Elementary. They are the parents of two -- one a student at Colorado State University and the other a senior at an APS high school.
“I’m excited by what the Horizon Campaign has done, we have much more to do," Casaus says. "We are fortunate to have a board of directors, including two APS students, to help guide our work, and the support of the district."
In addition to the year-round fundraising performed by the Foundation, the staff works on a variety of events, including A is for Art!, the Superintendent's Cup, Miles for Minds and Selfless Seniors to promote and benefit the good works in APS.
"I tell donors and almost everyone I meet that APS' best days are ahead," he says. "It will take the help of folks with big business cards and $1 bills, and everyone in between. But together, we can make a difference."
Roberta Velasquez joins the foundation with over twenty five years of experience in the nonprofit arena. She received her B.A. in Business Administration with concentrations in Accounting and Political Science from New Mexico Highlands University. She is also a Certified Fraud Examiner and an active member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
Born and raised in a small rural community in New Mexico, Roberta is passionate about education and making a difference. “Being able to work for a foundation that is making a difference for so many students is a privilege. Being able to wake up in the morning and know that what you are doing will help even one student succeed is priceless,” she says.
Lawren McConnellFundraising Specialist
Phone: (505) 855-5273
Lawren McConnell has over eight years non-profit experience. Born and raised in New Mexico, she received her B.B.A. in Marketing Management from the University of New Mexico after taking a semester to study International Business and Marketing at the University of Edinburgh.
She has worked with special events, corporate development, donor stewardship, board development, volunteer management and outreach. After moving back to New Mexico with her husband in 2013 to help with the family business, she launched a small bakery. In 2015, she returned to non-profit work, wanting to give back to her community.
With a passion for learning, Lawren has loved meeting exceptional educators and students who truly make a difference in the lives of others. Lawren also loves to travel and write and is a voracious reader.
Grants Writer and Manager
Phone: (505) 880-3708
Lori Webster has joined the APS Education Foundation after a twenty-year career in education, development and non-profit management. Her most recent position was as the director of a foundation for an Albuquerque-area charter school, Previously, she was a classroom teacher and the executive director of a youth-serving non-profit in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has been writing and administering grants since 1998.
Lori holds a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan and a M.A. in School Leadership from New Mexico Highlands University. She and her husband have one daughter, an APS elementary school student.