ECPSF Announces GATEWAYS Campaign Update and Ribbon Cutting

ECASD Special Education Coordinator, Kyrsha Tollefson. (Jeff Thompson Photography)

ECASD Superintendent, Mike Johnson. (Jeff Thompson Photography)

A GATEWAYS student cuts the ribbon to formally open the site. November 16, 2021. (Jeff Thompson Photography)

[EAU CLAIRE, WI] Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation (ECPSF)  announced Tuesday that the fundraising goal for the GATEWAYS special education transition center has been exceeded, in conjunction with a ribbon cutting celebration to commemorate the opening of the new space.

In the spring, the Eau Claire Area School District (ECASD) school board approved the project to begin renovation of an offsite location in EastRidge Center, to become a new transition center for the district’s students with disabilities ages 18-21, supporting their transition from school services to adult life. Renovation of the site took place over the summer months, and student use began November 1.

A public private partnership, ECASD is supporting the construction and lease of the space, while a committee of staff and volunteers partnered with Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation to raise the monies needed to outfit it with furniture, appliances, and more. To formally open the space and share a campaign update, a ribbon cutting was held at GATEWAYS on Tuesday, Nov. 16. Students eagerly gave tours of their new learning site to attendees.

“Our goal at the outset was to raise $100,000. I am thrilled to share with you that as of this morning, we have reached that goal!” announced ECPSF Executive Director, Sarah French, at the event. The news came on the heels of Eau Claire Community Foundation’s announcement earlier that day, highlighting the results of their fall crowdfunding event. ECPSF’s GATEWAYS Fund raised over $16,000 in the event, earning the project an additional $10,000 bonus grant. Throughout the 2021-22 year, Eau Claire Community Foundation is hosting crowdfunding events in celebration of their 25th anniversary.

ECASD’s superintendent, Mike Johnson, shared gratitude and enthusiasm for the new program. “This is what can happen when staff dream. Seeing this come to life for our students, we are so grateful!” Mr. Johnson said. The students were equally thrilled. When asked what they thought of their new space and opportunities, one student shared, “I love it. I never want to leave.” With the fundraising goal for furnishing the space met, French shared that the next phase of the campaign is supporting programming for the students.

To learn more and donate, visit the ECPSF website at, keyword search “gateways”, or contact Executive Director, Sarah French: (715) 852-3015, [email protected].

Eau Claire Public Schools Foundation is a nonprofit, independent organization that connects the community and Eau Claire Area School District to inspire and enhance the educational experience of our students. Through charitable donations gifted from community members and businesses, ECPSF is able to provide schools with their greatest needs, support educator creativity, and grow endowment funds to enable future giving.