NAUGATUCK — A longtime community volunteer will take the reins as president of the Naugatuck Education Foundation.
Attorney Andrew Bottinick, 55, has been elected unanimously by the NEF board to lead the nonprofit organization, which has a mission to encourage and support excellence in education by providing funding for innovative and creative learning opportunities for students.
“I’ve always been very involved in activities for kids, going all the way back to coaching (youth sports) and then being involved in various PTOs over the years,” he said.
A major portion of the organization’s mission is to give money to unique educational programs that are not funded through the annual education budget. Since Joan Doback started the NEF in 2012, the group has increased the amount it has given each year, going from $2,500 in 2012 to $30,000 last year. The foundation received $50,000 worth of grants requests from educators in the borough’s 10 public schools in 2014-15.
The largest single allocation last year was $8,000 to start a Unified Sports program at Naugatuck High School. The program, which is affiliated with Special Olympics, joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team.
Matt Fortney, who has served as president over the past two years, said he’s enjoyed the opportunity to lead the NEF because it offers an opportunity to have a direct impact on the educational experience of children in the community.
“I’m most proud of the financial growth that we’ve had and the fact that we have a brand now — people know what the NEF is,” he said.
He believes the foundation is in good hands with Bottinick as president.
“He’s a veteran of numerous other organizations in town that he’s been part of and chaired, so I think he’s bringing a wealth of experience and an appreciation for procedure and order that will be absolutely welcomed on the board,” Fortney said.
Bottinck has served the community in many capacities for several years. Currently, he sits on the Board of Finance. He was past chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners, has served on a Charter Revision Commission and coached youth sports for 17 years. Ten years ago, he was given the Raymond K. Foley Award for his dedication to local students. The award is given annually by the Parent School Council.
A married father of three children who have gone through Naugatuck Public Schools, Bottinick said the foundation is on a nice, upward trend. He said Fortney did an amazing job as president, and he hopes to continue that good work.
He sees the foundation as another way to help children in the community’s public schools.
“I can say that the schools do the best they can with the resources allotted to them,” he said. “Like any other school system, it’s what you put into it. What the kids want to get out of it ultimately determines their success rate. If you are a motivated student, you can succeed.”