Board members of the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation (TBRF) met with staff, teachers and board members of the Tamaqua Area School District, as well a wide array of community members, to announce the foundation's 2013 Grants For Teachers projects and recipients.

The event was held at the Vonz Restaurant at the Station in Tamaqua to foster and highlight innovative programs in public education within the school district and supported by the TBRF.

"Our foundation has raised $50,000 in it's first full three years," said Bob Miller, president of the foundation. "This money has been used for teacher project grants, guest speakers, iPads, improvements to high school library, visits by the Penn State Agricultural Education Mobil Unit, architectural exploration and revitalization and improvements to the three elementary libraries."

"Our foundation's mission is to fund projects that are outside the school district's budget by enlisting individuals, corporations and foundations in charitable fundraising activities," said Miller. "We are a 501c3 charitable corporation acting autonomously from the school district."

The foundation also manages the Karen Mateyak and Joe Plasko Scholarship Funds.

During the event, Miller expressed appreciation to Superintendent Carol Makuta and the rest of the school board for continuing the relationship between the district and the foundation.

"These educators giving of their time and talents is a testimony to the dedication of these individuals and their commitment to educating our young people," said Miller.

In addition, Miller recognized Liz Wright, admissions director and director of Academic Affairs, Penn State Hazleton Campus, as he also gave gratitude to Penn State for providing opportunities for Tamaqua students to participate in science, robotic and college credit programs, to include allowing high school students to interact with Penn State students on projects.

"The exposure these programs provide give our students the additional edge they will need to succeed," said Miller.

Wright said that their dual enrollment program will now recognize up to 60 LCCC credits.

Other board members of the RBRF include Walter Kruczek, vice president; attorney Jeff Bowe, secretary; Eric Zizelmann, treasurer; Johanna Ulicny, executive administrator; and board members Stephanie Atkins, Jerry Knowles and Joanne Calabrese.

A special thank you was given by Miller to a number of supporters, including the Tamaqua Area School District, Mauch Chunk Trust, Charles X. Block, Companion Animal Hospital, Penn State Hazleton, Physical Therapy Specialists, Shafer's Pharmacy, Beyrent Insurance Agency and Koch's Turkey Farm. Additional thanks was given to Susan Featro for holding her concert benefit in support of the foundation.

"Our fundraising solely depends on you, the community," added Miller during his speech. "In addition, businesses are able to support through participating in the Educational Tax Credit program offered through the state of Pennsylvania."

The program enables participating businesses to receive a tax credit on their annual tax liability.

"Divert your state dollars to our Tamaqua students," Miller said.

Miller said that the foundation is in the planning stages of its first annual Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation 5K Run/Walk Community Social Event. Information about this event will be released at a later date.

"To all of us, please remember our students are products of us," said Miller. "They learn and experience from us. The environment that surrounds them is the environment that will influence and set their pathway for the future. It is our job and our responsibility to provide the environment and the pathway for the Tamaqua students today and of the future.

"Tamaqua's commerce now and in the future depends on the molding of our students' education," he continued. "We need our graduates to stay. We need them to return after their higher education. We need their ideas, their entrepreneurship and their passion to help grow and prosper this Tamaqua area community. The more we invest in their growth, the higher our return."