Filo and Srinivasan continued from What Is Your Why? page
“I was aware of the challenges of funding the public schools in the state (of Kansas), but here in Palo Alto, an affluent, privileged community with good public schools, and yet from what I could glean here, compared to the experience I had in Lawrence, it reinforced how lucky I was to have the breadth of experiences that were available to me in Lawrence Public Schools,” she said.
“It wasn’t just the great teachers, but it was the breadth of extracurricular opportunities,” Srinivasan explained. “There were art programs that were regular, recurring classes that could be part of my day. I had taken for granted having those experiences for well-rounded opportunities and I started wondering about how are we as a broader community making choices about what we are supporting in public schools and arts in the public schools?… I wanted to find out if there was a way I could be of use to the public schools.
At that time the Lawrence Schools Foundation had completed a survey to get a sense of what needs were being met and were not met in the schools.
“The biggest need was discretionary funds for teachers,” Srinivasan said. “This was phenomenal. It occurred to me to do something to spur private giving to public education in Lawrence the way I was seeing (in Palo Alto) and I could do something to kick that off.”
Srinivasan spoke at the Foundation’s first fund-raising Community Education Breakfast in 2002 when she was the editor of Yahoo and was part of a campaign to encourage the community to support the Foundation.
One of those who responded to the plea was Srinivasan’s friend Angela Filo.
“Srinija put (donating) on my radar,” Filo said. “I knew she had gotten involved. We were doing more philanthropy and it caused me to look at it.
“My husband Dave and I care very deeply about helping all students have access to a high quality public school system,” said Filo, who established the Yellow Chair Foundation, which awards grants to organizations focused on education, civil liberties, gender equity and the environment. “Strong public schools are essential to our democracy and we see that in so many ways.”
Both Srinivasan and Filo are proud to provide resources to teachers and hope others in the community feel the same way.
“I highly believe in supporting teachers, so what the Foundation does in terms of teaching grants and allowing them to innovate and take their ideas they have and make them a reality in their classroom – I believe we need to lift up teachers and give them the tools they need to help every student succeed,” Filo said. “I think the Lawrence Schools Foundation is so important and that community members are engaged and support public education however they can."
“My family and I have been the grateful beneficiaries of a great community and within that, great public schools where the quality of the education and the breadth of opportunities that we got enriched our lives immeasurably,” Srinivasan said.
Today, half a country away from where they established the foundations for their future, both Srinivasan and Filo continue to provide opportunities for our students in hopes that they have the best possible education they can receive right here in Lawrence, Kan.