The new leader of the Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation is taking over with a strong vision for the nonprofit organization.

Suzi Bruin, who started Oct. 24 as the new foundation executive director, said one of her first priorities is the organization’s annual campaign, along with spending some time out in the community raising more awareness about what the foundation does and its impact on Columbus.

Bruin said she was interested in leading the foundation because she has a passion for helping others.

“It’s a way for me to impact the whole district,” Bruin said, pointing out the foundation not only helps students, but also the Columbus community as a whole.

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The school foundation, founded in 1955 and the oldest in the state, provides teacher grants, administers scholarships and serves as the fiscal agent for programs including Book Buddies, Busy Bees Academy and Family School Partners.

Book Buddies, a volunteer tutoring program that helps second- and third-grade students improve reading skills through tutoring provided by volunteers.

Bruin is taking over the part-time leadership role formerly held by Ethan Crough, who left to take a position with Cummins, Inc.

She has been employed with Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. for four years, most recently as a nutritionist assistant coordinator for the district. She has also worked as a project manager at CSA Lincoln’s campus.

The Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation supports student scholarships, along with different programs and initiatives within BCSC, which includes a focus on literacy through children’s programs offered by the Bartholomew Literacy Task Force.

As a nonprofit, the foundation relies on donations through an annual fundraising campaign, the support of local businesses and contributions from BCSC employees. The Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, provides a modest endowment.

The foundation recently awarded more than $32,000 in grant funding toward 16 different teacher projects across the district. Earlier projects have included everything from buying stability balls for students to sit on in classrooms to funding research field trips for students to study different ecosystems.

The organization distributes funds during two grant cycles each year after its board of directors evaluates requests.

Without the foundation grant funding, many of the projects would struggle or teachers would be forced to use their own money to fund them, Bruin said. That’s why it’s so important to raise awareness about the foundation’s role in the community, she said.

The foundation is grounded in history and tradition, and is a way for community residents to make a difference, she said.

Crough said Bruin brings a great enthusiasm and passion for BCSC students and their education to her new role.

“The board of directors is lucky to have Suzi as their new director because she has great ideas for taking the organization to the next level for foundations in our community,” he said.

During his four years at the foundation, Crough said he is most proud of adding and enhancing the downtown architectural tours for BCSC third-graders provided through the Columbus Visitors Center.

The foundation has contributed funds for the Young Designers program, which allows every third-grade BCSC class to visit downtown Columbus and participate in a community education walking tour, he said. The program has been jointly funded by the foundation and the Heritage Fund.

About Suzi Bruin

Age: 46

Education: Shelbyville High School, bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Experience: Worked for the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. for four years, most recently has nutritionist assistant coordinator for the district. She also worked as a project manager for the CSA Lincoln campus.

Family: Married to Bret Bruin, with two children, Brooke, a freshman at Columbus North High School, and Will, a junior at Columbus East.

About the foundation

Mission: To support the work of Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. by providing funding and promoting awareness and philanthropy for programs that help students achieve educational excellence.

Address: BCSC administration building, 1200 Central Ave., Columbus.

Phone: 812-378-4733

Email: bruins@bcsc.k12.in.us

Online: Visit bcsc.k12.in.us/schoolfoundation