The following key
principles have helped us make each school project work, and
some of the project successful. To understand our approaches,
please check the details of each principle:
Sustainability of beneficiary
programs is at the center of the foundation's operating
philosophy. Instead of making one-off donations, the foundation
sets up small-scale commercially viable and eco-friendly
agriculture projects with donations of $5,000-20,000.
Within 2-3 years, proceeds from these projects will supply
a steady stream of cash flow to fund free tuition for
all financially deprived children in the village. After
meeting the tuition needs, revenues can also be used to
fund students' room and board, school fees and supplies,
and improvement of school conditions. Before these school
farms become profitable, the Phelex foundation may provides
direct tuition aid, usually for 2-3 years, to the school's
poorest children, with priority going to girls and ethnic
and local partnerships are essential ingredients of STAP,
which relies on volunteers as project monitors, technical
trainers, advisors, Community Council coordinators, accountants
and auditors, photographers, local fund-raisers, etc.
Many of them take full charge of the agriculture projects,
running them with good business sense and in most cases,
with good profitability. The volunteering "entrepreneur"
can be a teacher, the principal, an educational official,
a reporter, or a parent. To maximize the effect of its
financial resources, the foundation builds partnerships
with local NGOs and government agencies that share the
foundation's values. Local partners often contribute cash,
free (or low-cost) land, production materials, tax exemptions,
or an undertaking to purchase the product at best prices.
In addition to amplifying the financial impact of the
foundation's donations, volunteerism, entrepreneurship
and local partnerships have also enabled us to build broad-based
grass-root support in areas that are difficult to reach
geographically and culturally.
The Community Council pilot program has been a successful
aspect of the STAP, and surprisingly uncontroversial.
The 5-11 members of the Community Council, mostly democratically
elected volunteers and parents, make decisions on a
wide range of issues:
- Distribute tuition aid funds, as well as merit scholarships,
teacher stipends (if applicable), nutrition supplement
funds, in compliance with donor guidelines and the
principle of openness, fairness, and truthfulness.
- Supervise the finances of the agriculture project
and special purpose accounts,
ensuring integrity and transparency.
- Advise the Principal on the overall financial management
of the school. Help the school and Phelex Foundation
raise additional funding for the tuition assistance
fund dedicated to the aid of children of poor families
in the school district.
- Make regular reports to the Phelex Foundation as
well as the local government. The Community Council
format, essential to the work of the Phelex Foundation
in Asia, has become widely accepted in the beneficiary
school districts, and is gaining popularity in programs
administered by other NGOs.
Financial Control is provided
by the Phelex Foundation for all the projects it has funded
and for as long as the projects last. This ranges from
financial planning, budgeting, procurement, line-item
reimbursement, financial reporting (cash flow, P&L
and balance sheet), auditing, proceeds usage planning,
and disclosure. All Phelex Foundation funds must be used
on specific items approved by the foundation. The Foundation
prohibits uses of its funds on things like taxations and
levies, purchase of school premises, payment of IOUs issued
by local governments to teachers, etc. School farms are
also prohibited from providing cash, goods or services
to any institution or individual.
- Efforts in helping minority groups and disadvantaged
Since 1995, the Phelex Foundation has established more than
30 projects in elementary and middle schools in helping rural
children complete their basic schooling. We discovered some
common problems in the process of project management. The
following are some of the areas that need improvements based
on our experiences.