Board Member Spotlight: Brenda McAferty North Thurston Public Schools McKinney-Vento Homeless/Foster Care Liaison

 1. How did you first get involved in NTEF?
I have been familiar with the North Thurston Education Foundation for several years. However, over the past five years as the McKinney-Vento Homeless Liaison, I have become more aware of the impact the foundation has on supporting the needs of our nearly 900 McKinney-Vento homeless students. Three years ago, I was approached by a member of the board and asked if I would be interested in being a member of this amazing group. How could I say no to such an important part of our community? I am now serving in my third year on the board.
2. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I love camping, boating, and kayaking with my family, as well as visiting my two adorable grandchildren in Washington D.C. I also enjoy volunteering with my daughter as an overnight host at our local family shelter.

3. How do you believe the community can best support the work of NTEF?

There are several ways our community can support the work NTEF. One way is to become familiar with all the amazing things the foundation does to support our students, staff and schools; you can check us out on the web at One program that I am especially proud of is our “Sponsor a Senior” program which provides every graduating senior who qualifies under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act with a cap & gown and a yearbook. Other ways to support NTEF include direct donations to the foundation, signing up for AmazonSmile or Fred Meyer Community Rewards program. Every little bit helps! 

Learning Improvement Grants

Our Learning Improvement Grants help teachers increase student learning tied to district and state learning goals.

*Pictured is Tiffany Bradford, with NTEF Executive Director Mike Jones. Tiffany, of Lakes Elementary, was awarded a Learning Improvement Grant for a Dictionary Knowledge Program.

The next deadline for submitting a Learning Grant application has been extended to May 15, 2019!

Click here to apply:

Prime Lending Spotlight

We thank Prime Lending Olympia for being a regular contributor toward the programs at NTEF. We are grateful for their continued involvement and support!

PrimeLending is a national mortgage lender that provides a wide array of loan products, including fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, FHA and VA loans, jumbo loans, refinancing options, renovation loans, and relocation programs.

They offer a variety of home loan programs for a range of credit scores and with various down payment options. Since 1986, they’ve helped over 500,000 homeowners buy a new home, fix up a current home or refinance. If you are in the market for a home loan, they can help you make the right decisions and have a rewarding experience along the way!

Learn More About Prime Lending Olympia 


North Thurston Education Foundation Donor Profile: Larry Blume

Larry Blume moved to Thurston County as a child when his father was stationed at Joint Base Lewis–McChord and has lived in the area ever since. He first heard about North Thurston Education Foundation from a colleague over 30 years ago when the organization began.

He fell out of touch with NTEF for awhile, but attended an annual meeting a few years ago and has since become a regular contributor. “I attended Thurston County public schools and graduated from North Thurston High School and it’s nice to be able to give back,” says Blume.

Blume was a Thurston County business owner for 46 years. He owned The Guardsman men’s clothing shop in Lacey until his retirement about 7 years ago.

“I think it’s important for people involved with NTEF and contributors to spread the word about their mission and increase awareness to get more of the community involved,” says Blume.

We thank Larry for his ongoing contributions to our mission!

North Thurston School Counselor Profile

Over the coming year, we will share profiles of North Thurston Public Schools’ counselors. Every day, the North Thurston Education Foundation partners with school counselors to make sure the immediate needs of our kids are met. We could not do our work without these amazing people!

Meet Debbie LaFever, Lacey Elementary School 

Debbie LaFever has 20 years of experience as a school counselor and has worked as Lacey Elementary’s school counselor for 16 years. Here’s what she has to say about her work with NTEF:

NTEF is a blessing to every school, including mine. There are so many times that students come to school in the morning with unmet needs and we begin a search for a resource to meet that need. You might have knowledge of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs and know that basic needs of safety, shelter, food, sleep, and clothing must be met in order for a student to even begin to focus on learning.

Time and time again, the funds that NTEF provides the school help to meet our students’ needs. We have a first grader who has been living in a car or sleeping at the shelter who has been helped with clothing, parents who have been evicted with nowhere to go who have been helped with a motel room, families with resources so limited that they can’t afford to rent an instrument for their student who desperately wants to be in the band and adults who lose a job and can’t pay their rent that is due.

I have personally walked alongside students in heartbreaking circumstances over the years that have been lifted up by the help of the Foundation. I can’t thank you enough for understanding that these are not bad people, but people just like you and me, who have fallen on hard times and need a helping hand and the kindness of a stranger to help them get back on track. I recently supplied a pair of noise-canceling earphones from NTEF foundation funds to a young student who cried every day because she had to go to the Boys and Girls club after school. The noise made her dread going, but the earphones completely turned her mood around.

Sometimes, it can be the simplest thing that helps a child to feel like someone really does care. Each student is a treasure and I am honored to be able to distribute funds from the generous hearts of those who contribute to the Foundation to those who are in need. It makes me love my job, even more, when I can say: “Yes, we can help you with that.”

Thank you, Debbie, for your hard work and dedication to the students of North Thurston public schools!