After the Central Bucks School District abruptly ended its relationship with CB Cares Educational Foundation earlier this year, the organization is regrouping and promising to continue its supportive mission, said Phil Ehlinger, who will become the CB Cares board president in June.
“I am pleased to report the hull of CBCEF is sound, our rigging intact and our sails are full,” wrote Ehlinger in a recent email to his fellow board members. Ehlinger was a former CB Cares board member and a past president. He is Doylestown Borough’s deputy manager.
As the foundation, now celebrating its 25th year of programs such as 40 assets, Boomerang Awards and Innovative Learning grants pivots to recover from the school district’s decision, Ehlinger said a number of changes are being considered.
First, he said, the board has interviewed several nonprofit strategic planning consultants and expects to hire one soon. “We want them to conduct a needs assessment and help us determine what CB Cares can do moving forward. We believe there are many unmet needs in the community.”
The consultant will also work with the educational foundation to create a new strategic plan that, said Ehlinger, “will write a new script and map out a plan for our future.” The restructured foundation, he said, will focus on DEI (diversity, equality, inclusion) issues.
Additionally, he said, CB Cares is working with Doylestown Health, one of its founding partners, to ensure the “beneficial relationship” remains strong.
In a March 29 letter to the CB Cares board of directors, Central Bucks’ superintendent, Abram Lucabaugh, said the district intends to develop an educational foundation to “augment programs and activities not funded by the district’s operating budget. Specifically, the foundation will function as a fundraising and community connections agency.”
The letter also said CB Cares violated the district’s trust over the past two years “through a series of actions, including political affiliations, disruptive messaging and failure to execute duties as delineated in its agreement with the district.” The unspecified actions, wrote Lucabaugh, have made “the existing relationship untenable.”
The superintendent said the district “appreciates the contributions of CB Cares…and wishes it well in its future endeavors.”
Saying CBSD’s action “ripped the ground out from under us,” Ehlinger added, “we don’t know how to address the school board’s accusations because we don’t know what they’re talking about.”
The foundation’s president did say, the nonprofit provided a $1,000 grant to a middle school teacher who wanted to develop a “rainbow reading rack,” to include books with a focus on LGBTQ stories and characters. “We thought it was a wonderful idea,” said Ehlinger. CB Cares also donated N95 masks it had been given by Doylestown Hospital to Central Bucks teachers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the ruptured relationship, Ehlinger said he believes, “we can do more good working together than apart,” adding, the foundation is “always open” to renewing its relationship with the school district.