LeOra Cordis Trust

After meetings in Cameroon, Brazil and South Africa during the second decade of ISfTE, a groundswell of support for the creation of a charitable trust fund grew among members. This goal was clearly voiced at Canterbury, England in 1999. A proposal was made to establish an ISfTE Trust to raise funds to help ISfTE members from developing countries to participate in future ISfTE Seminars. Over the years Convenors had obtained financial assistance from government and international agencies, philanthropic bodies and other sources that have helped many such members to participate. It was agreed that these efforts had been of great benefit for all members of the society and it was hoped that such efforts by individual convenors would continue. The 1999 proposal was to place this activity on a formal footing. After some discussion it was decided to investigate the idea of establishing an ISfTE Trust with proper safeguards that would seek funds from various sources and distribute them to ISfTE members from developing countries, according to well considered and monitored principles. Bob O'Brien was asked to prepare a draft of the proposal and to commence a process of consultation with members. Two years later an ISfTE newsletter was able to report that another important moment in the evolution of ISfTE had taken place during the gathering of members in Kuwait. The Steering Committee recommended that the LeOra Cordis Memorial Trust of the International Society for Teacher Education be instituted. The proposal was agreed to and Bob O'Brien returned home to begin a final revision of the deed of trust before circulation to the Settlor, the Secretary General, and the three trustees appointed by Warren Halloway. LeOra Cordis was a foundation member of ISfTE and had become a prominent advocate for Early Childhood education being within the range of interest of other members of the society. She also took up with characteristic enthusiasm the ambition of some members to find the means of having participants from more affluent economies subsidizing ISfTE seminar participation by members who make considerable financial sacrifices to register from time to time. Hence the decision to name the trust in her memory. Her death in 2000 was a cause of regret among her ISfTE colleagues from many parts of the world. The basic ideas of the trust, accepted by the Steering Committee, included the objectives of the trust which are:
  1. the advancement of the objectives of ISfTE;
  2. the maintenance and management of funds or real estate or other property transferred to the trust by the Settlor;
  3. application of the LeOra Cordis Memorial Trust funds for the benefit of beneficiaries and not for the private pecuniary benefit of any individual person.
In the remaining months of 2001, trustees Anne-Marie Bergh (South Africa), Louisa Kozey (Canada) and Bob O'Brien (New Zealand) considered policy relating to the building of the Trust and guidelines for seminar convenors and their planning committees about any distribution of income that may accrue. All members were, and still are, invited to make a contribution to the Trust Fund. In 2002 the LeOra Cordis Memorial Trust Fund interest and dividend money was used for the first time to pay the registration fee of six members from developing countries who wished to attend the 22nd Seminar in Denmark. The very modest amount available came from the interest accrued from members' donations and the transfer of funds to the Trust by the Secretary-General, and the convenors of the 12th Seminar (Armidale), 20th Seminar (Annapolis) and 22nd Seminar (Helsingor). The amount of interest accrued by 30 September 2003 was such that only a small number of members could have been offered a subsidy for participation in the Hongkong Seminar. The process of having the Convenor pass on requests for financial assistance from the Trust worked effectively. As did the communication by e-mail among Trustees when the applications were considered. Funds from the Trust are used only to pay the registration fee. It does not cover transportation to and from the seminar, room and meals at the seminar, nor the membership fee. These are the responsibilities of the participant. The endowment by 2008 was up to nearly US$25,000.00. After the official inception of the LeOra Cordis Memorial Trust Fund in 2001, the endowment grew dramatically, but the subsequent decline in membership of the society and seminar participation has seen the growth slow down for much of this decade. A small number of members did qualify for and seek financial support after 2003 but recent Steering Committee discussions raised the possibility that subsidies to non-members should be considered if applications to Convenors were not numerous. This practice was applied for the first time at Stirling. The well attended AGM of the Trust at Stirling agreed that a policy review should be conducted in the following months, as those present were of the opinion that the intentions of the LeOra Cordis Memorial Trust would be better met if a grant to, perhaps, one ISfTE member, of a kind of scholarship / bursary of about USD1,000 to one person, was made in future years. People would apply on a competitive basis (with no late applications considered) and the different motivations could be weighed up against each other, using the current criteria of the Trust. Agreement was reached in October, when, apart from slight hesitancy about retaining the beneficiary's age clause, (e), nine of the trustees concurred with the policy proposals that had been circulated. That the Trustees should revert to the policies and criteria originally formulated, and offer a GRANT to a member from a country that meets the guidelines followed by Joanna McPake at Stirling in 2007. The Convenors of the 2008 Armidale Seminar, by November 2007, had received enquiries from four ISfTE members from Papua-New Guinea, Thailand, Kiribati and Romania concerning the funds available from the Trust to support their attendance at ISfTE 2008. These applications were from members, and met the criteria as coming from "low GDP countries". The convenors planned to allocate the funds as follows:
  1. We will rank applications in terms of eligibility and completeness.
  2. We would offer full registration of AU$ 1,200 to the applicant at the top of the list.
  3. Should there be further funds available, the second (and subsequent) applicant(s) will be supported for the full registration fee.
  4. Residual funds would be returned to the Trust for rolling over for subsequent years.
The Co-convenors for ISfTE 2009, Peggy Saunders and Forrest Crawford, have been receiving and processing all applications on behalf of the trustees, using the model trialled successfully at Armidale in 2008. Warren Halloway and John Maurer developed a list of criteria that they invited applicants to address once they had submitted an expression of interest. These criteria were:
  • submit an abstract of a paper to be presented at the ISfTE Seminar
  • provide a CV
  • indicate the extent and duration of their involvement with ISfTE, and
  • provide some information on the benefit support would provide to the applicant and their country.
All applicants were informed that the LeOra Cordis Memorial Trust Grant covered Seminar Registration fees only. Each applicant had to make their own arrangements to cover:
  • Fares
  • Accommodation, and
  • The ISfTE annual membership fee.
In spite of the current international financial cycle now being in a deep trough, the ISfTE Treasurer, Johan Borup has been able to allocate a similar amount of Grant money to the Trustees, as was the case in 2008. Each year the Trustees re-state the current criteria for the GRANTS, advise the seminar convener(s) how much interest is available in a particular year, and remain at arms length from the decisions about who gets the grant(s) (i.e. leave it to the convener(s) who will consult with the Trustees via the Chair of the Trustees before a grant is confirmed).

Kezang Tshering (Chair of trustees)

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