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WNC Business

Business Profiles - Henderson County Education Foundation

Jul 27, 2023 05:39AM ● By Randee Brown

Since 1986, the Henderson County Education Foundation has helped support a positive education experience for all children in Henderson County Public Schools. The organization was first created to provide student scholarships, and Executive Director Peggy Marshall said the organization has grown to offer a lot more for public education in the county. 

“We want to touch as many kids as we can,” Marshall said. “We still offer scholarships as well, but our goal is to positively impact every child in every school in some capacity.”

There are organizations in many of the area’s counties that help provide support to the education system, and Marshall said each has a different focus depending on the needs of each district and what they value most.

Marshall said the Henderson County Education Foundation is based around a goal of providing equitable experiences to every child. She said not all kids get to go to parks, attend theater performances, or participate in summer camps.

The Foundation provides a variety of resources, opportunities, and funds to improve many aspects of the students’ and teachers’ experience in their education journey. Supporting the whole child, everything from scholarships to classroom materials to experiential programs are offered to every child in the county’s public school system.

Consisting of three staff, the HCEF is a partnership with a wonderful Board of Directors, according to Marshall. She said the team and members communicate directly with the county’s schools and principles making sure there is never a drop in services. They also all work together in fundraising as well as writing grants for various programs.

Offerings of the HCEF include:

  • Providing educational materials and kits to help boost literacy for struggling readers, helping schools identify struggling readers so they can get the help they need to succeed as they move through grade school.

  • Bringing the A Leader In Me program to area schools. This program focuses on a whole-school model to encourage leadership, culture, academics, and empowerment with soft skills to facilitate success.

  • Partnering with another nonprofit organization called Muddy Sneakers to offer outdoor education and six outdoor field trips for every 5th grader in all of Henderson County’s public schools. 

  • Giving all 22 principals in the county $1,000 to use at their discretion to help meet various emergency needs of their students through The Spring Fund.

  • Partnering with the Flat Rock Playhouse to bring plays into schools.

  • Helping pay for an instructor to come into schools, providing one-on-one music lessons to students learning to play string instruments through The Berrian Strings Fund.

  • Hosting Discover STEM Camps for rising 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th graders each summer. HCEF asks schools to give applications to girls, students of color, and students of poverty, attempting to get all populations of students excited about the STEM career field. This program visits businesses focused in areas such as manufacturing, technology, and healthcare, as well as offers a variety of hands-on activities for students.

  • Recognizing individuals retired from a variety of education sectors including teachers, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers through The Education Hall of Fame. 

In addition to these programs, Marshall said the Foundation works with different sponsors to provide $125,000 in various annual scholarships for students. Initiated by the Board of Directors, the Grow Our Own Educational Assistance Fund hopes to help BIPOC students, classroom assistants, or support personnel to gain an education degree in any aspect. 

“It could be teaching, counseling, or social work, but they must commit to coming back to Henderson County Public Schools to work,” Marshall said. “There are also memorial scholarships sponsored by community members, and each has their own requirements. There is a committee that meets to interview students and decide the scholarships’ recipients. It’s really hard to say no to any kid, but there’s only so much to go around. We hope to keep expanding so we can help more kids.”

Marshall said her work as an educator in Henderson County is where her passion comes from in leading the HCEF. “As a retired educator from Hendersonville, I served in the classroom and as a principal,” she said. “I’ve seen kids benefit from programs like these, and now I get to share stories of the wonderful impact of gathering the community to help provide kids what they need to be successful in their education.”

Founded in October 1986, the Henderson County Education Foundation exists to improve the educational experience for Henderson County students and teachers. Peggy Marshall has served as Executive Director since February 2022. Learn more at