The nonprofit Appoquinimink Foundation is seeking donations, bequests and additional community involvement in an effort to expand its mission of supporting local teachers and students through grant and scholarship programs.

Two years ago, the Appoquinimink School District opened an innovative alternative energy “classroom” at its Bunker Hill campus.

The glassed-in, standalone building was designed to provide local science students with real-world examples of solar and wind power generation, as well as the reuse of rainwater in a demonstration garden.

The only problem was that many schools in the district weren’t able to provide the transportation funding needed to send their science classes to the facility.

“Unfortunately, schools do not have unlimited funds to provide students with all the activities they would like, particularly when those activities fall outside of the core instruction,” said former district science specialist Sandra Smithers. “So that’s why I turned to the Appoquinimink Foundation for help.”

A few weeks later, the 4-year-old nonprofit’s board of directors approved a $5,000 grant that will help cover transportation costs to the Alternative Energy Classroom during this school year and the next.

“That grant fell directly in line with our mission, which is to provide students and classroom teachers with funding for things that fall outside the normal revenue structure,” said Bill Hutchison, a former district school board member who now serves on the Appoquinimink Foundation’s board of directors. “Hopefully, as we grow, we’ll be able to do many more positive things like that to support the great educational system we have here in the district.”

The Appoquinimink Foundation was first incorporated in 2010 and became a federally-registered nonprofit earlier this year.

Foundation president Bonnie Lewis, the branch manager at the PNC Bank in the Dove Run Shopping Center, said the idea for the organization was first developed by former superintendent Tony Marchio and former Middletown High Principal Donna Mitchell.

“The Red Clay School District had a similar foundation and they wanted to do the same thing here so they asked me to head it up,” Lewis said. “I’m a parent in the district, active in the community and PNC is a huge supporter of the schools, so how could I say no?”

Since 2010, the Appoquinimink Foundation has raised $72,000 through its annual golf tournament at the Back Creek Country Club, including this year’s Sept. 23 event, which attracted more than 50 golfers and raised about $18,500 through entrance fees and sponsorships.

In addition to funding a small grant program, the foundation also has launched a scholarship program that to date has provided $2,500 to two graduating seniors from Middletown High and two from Appoquinimink High.

Currently, the foundation is planning a Nov. 30 alumni social for graduates of the district’s two high schools, followed by a 5k run/walk through downtown Middletown on Dec. 1.

And it recently launched a website and a Facebook page in an effort to raise its profile and encourage donations, bequests and additional community involvement.

“We’ve gotten the foundation started, but we’re by no means looking to control the end result,” Lewis said. “What we want are new ideas and input from the community, some of whom might see a larger vision for our future than we do now.”

To that end, the foundation is currently seeking to add up to three new members to its existing board, which currently includes Lewis, Hutchison, Marchio and Appoquinimink School District alumni Brian Briscoe, Jody Chambers and Sally Scarpitti.

Anyone interested in serving on the board or donating to the foundation’s mission is directed to visit the foundation’s website at, email or call (302) 376-4138, ext. 3826.