About Us

Mission, Scope, and Goals

The Helena Education Foundation enhances the experiences of public education students and educators in Montana’s capital city. HEF sponsors a wide array of events annually: Issues Institutes for students, teachers and community, Great Ideas Grants and Spark Grants; the Celebration of Excellence for graduating seniors and their Distinguished Educators; Trading Places for learning and collaboration among school administrators and community leaders; Great Conversations for civil discussion and life-long learning; Fabulous Firsts providing books to first graders; the community celebration Carnival Classic and more.

Key to HEF’s innovation is our message that excellent public schools forge healthy communities and that this vehicle allows the entire community to invest time, assets and enthusiasm in the cause—“Great schools are everyone’s business!”

Our Mission

THE MISSION of the Helena Education Foundation is to enrich education in the Helena Public Schools through consistent community investment of time, talent, funding and other resources, providing students, staff and the community with unparalleled educational opportunities and experiences.

The Foundation will achieve its mission by directing resources toward the following goals:

  • Promoting and celebrating student educational success;
  • Recognizing staff for creative and innovative teaching;
  • Increasing the visibility and value of public education;
  • Promoting understanding that the entire community is responsible for creating, maintaining and participating in quality public education;
  • Recruiting and supporting a dynamic, volunteer Board of Directors that represents Helena;
  • Encouraging lifelong learning by providing unique educational opportunities for students, staff and the community; and
  • Building awareness of the Helena Education Foundation.

The Helena Education Foundation:

  • Is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt philanthropic organization of local citizens, independent of the Helena Public School District but one that is complementary to and collaborative with it;
  • Works to increase private support for public education beyond that which is constitutionally mandated and provided;
  • Benefits Helena Public School students and staff by serving as a catalyst and funding source for new ideas, programs and education methods;
  • Relies on donations to fund ongoing work and to provide new programs to meet the emerging needs of our students and community; and
  • Strives for excellence in organizational practices through a community representative board of directors, systems that adhere to governance best practices and procedures for thoughtful, responsible and efficient stewardship of the generous contributions we received from our community.


Lisa Cordingley
Executive Director
[email protected]

Becca Leaphart
Deputy Director
[email protected]

Board of Directors


  • Tim Meldrum, President – SMA Architecture + Design
  • Jana Garza, Secretary – First Interstate Bank
  • Ellen Feaver, Treasurer – Retired, CPA Anderson ZurMuehlen
  • Kyle Spencer, Past President –Allegra Marketing, Print, Mail
  • Chris Christensen – Retired, Montana Board of Crime Control
  • John Doran – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana
  • Brandy Garber – Marsh McLennan
  • Anna Gates, CHS Student Representative
  • Jake Heaton –Allegra Marketing, Print, Mail
  • Jason Loble – Crowley Fleck, PLLP
  • Graden Marcelle – Montana Department of Labor
  • Annika Nehring, HHS Student Representative
  • Sue Sweeney, Member At Large – Retired, Broadwater Elementary School
  • Rex Weltz – Superintendent, Helena School District, ex officio
  • Cory Wood – Helena Orthodontics