National ESP Council took steps in 1985 to establish a National Epsilon Sigma Phi Development Fund to foster even greater emphasis on "Partnership in Professional Excellence" among ESP members and the Cooperative Extension System as a whole.
Epsilon Sigma Phi's most valuable asset is the quality of the Extension faculty/staff dedicated to serving people across the nation. Membership dues provide a base of financial support, within the chapters and nationally, for the ongoing operations of our organization. But, private tax-exempt contributions are necessary to provide an extra margin of excellence. After receiving legal counsel in 2002, the fund name of Foundation was dropped and Development was determined to be the more appropriate designation.
Epsilon Sigma Phi had a commitment to future excellence through the Development Fund to:
- Provide scholarships for professional improvement to individuals and mini-grants to chapters.
- Support internships to give new on-the-job experience in supervision and administration.
- Publish the latest literature on professionalism and professional development opportunities for Extension faculty/staff.
- Prepare resource materials that chapters can use to emphasize professionalism to prospective members.
- Update and maintain a record of Epsilon Sigma Phi history and encourage chapters to implement Extension history projects.
To help reach a projected goal for an endowment fund of at least $500,000 by 2007, each chapter was asked to name an Endowment Chair to give leadership to the local effort. The National Board named an Endowment Committee to give leadership and develop support materials for use with the chapter campaigns. The goal was within reach until issues with the economy and investments caused a setback. The original goal is still in sight and annually the efforts continue to reach the original goal.
In 2004 the National Board entered into agreement with Patten and Patten a financial advisor to provide expert assistance in managing the resources of the organization to maximize our returns while providing an element of safety for the funds invested. This ongoing relationship has proved to be a good fit the Development Funds and the Organization.
The Scholarship Auction at the National ESP Conference also generates revenue for the Development Fund. Funds from the auction are used to build on the investment that ESP has in the Development Fund and to fill needs for scholarships, mini-grants and recognition for members.
The Resource Development and Management Committee of ESP continues to oversee the management and growth in funding for the Development Fund. Several members have established ongoing pledges to help the fund continue to grow to meet the expanding needs of the programs which benefit members.
The following programs are funded by the Development Fund annually:
- 4-$600 PILD Scholarships - $2400
- 4-$500 Administrator/Leader Scholarships - $2,000
- 4-$1,000 Mini-Grants for Professional Development - $4,000
- 4-$500 Richard R Angus Professional Development Scholarships - $2,000
The $10,000 return to members in the form of scholarships, mini-grants and member recognition all support the original intent and goals for which the fund was established. Increasing the fund will allow the organization to do even more to assist members in obtaining additional professional development opportunities.