Southwest HS Foundation receives $250k donation

A 1969 graduate of Southwest High School has donated $250,000 to the Southwest High School Foundation, the organization announced Nov. 20.

Betsee Parker requested that the funds be split equally to “emphasize and support Southwest Women’s Athletics and teacher innovation and development,” according to a foundation press release. The press release quoted Parker as saying she hopes her contribution inspires others to give to the foundation and “strengthen an already magnificent school.”

“I am proud to contribute to The Southwest Foundation as it maximizes the potential of our school and city with equitable distribution of financial resources within the high school, encourages innovation, and establishes valuable community partnerships,” she said.

According to the release, Parker’s involvement at Southwest began at a young age. She excelled academically at the school, the release said, but “also grew frustrated with bias demonstrated toward male classmates and a lack of extracurricular opportunities for young women.”

The release said she hopes her contribution toward girl’s sports will expand opportunities and “communal confidence toward an integral piece of development for young women.” It said the remaining funds will focus on grant allocations pertaining to work in the classroom.

“With the designated pool of resources allocated through Southwest Foundation grants, Dr. Parker hopes teachers can find avenues and development opportunities to expand their classroom presence and subsequently give kids reasons to “want to learn,”” the release said.

Foundation Board Chair Adam Barrett, a 2000 graduate, said in the release that he is humbled by Parker’s contribution. “Dr. Parker is confidently investing in the power and potential of the students and teachers in our IB World School because they are strong and capable,” he said.

Parker received a master’s degree in divinity from Harvard Divinity School in 1985 and spent 22 years in the pulpit as an Episcopal priest after graduation and ordination, according to an article from Harvard.

According to the release, the foundation exists to provide post-secondary scholarships, raise money to support academic achievement and artistic and athletic opportunities and build and maintain relationships with alumni and community. In 2017, it provided over $188,000 in grants for post-secondary scholarships and academic and athletic programs at Southwest, according to its 990 federal nonprofit tax form. It had over $201,000 in assets as of the end of 2017, the form said.

Southwest is a grades 9-12 high school that serves as the community high school for about 10 neighborhoods in Southwest Minneapolis, including Linden Hills, Fulton and several neighborhoods in Uptown. The school has an International Baccalaureate diploma program and offers four world languages, 18 varsity sports and over three dozen arts courses. The school had 1,930 students as of Oct. 1, including 543 ninth-graders, according to a Minneapolis Public Schools enrollment report.