Especially in rural communities, school districts are central in the development of young residents and the support of local professionals. That’s very much the case in Alton, which sits nearly smack-dab in the middle of Oregon County’s sparsely populated, largely wooded, hilly and rural Ozarks acreage spread out over nearly 800 square miles.
To support the needs of both local residents and the school that serves so many of them is the Alton Community Foundation, and its nonprofit partner, the Alton R-IV Public Schools Foundation.
The ACF was founded in 2007. To date, it has distributed more than $525,630 in grants to the community, and as of June 2023, holds assets totaling $639,013.
While the school-based foundation primarily focuses on scholarships, how the ACF serves the community has evolved with time. A note of significance came in 2014, when the foundation worked with the Beatles to raise money for the community.
It’s true — but in an unexpected way.
In 1964, the famed music group visited Oregon County for a few days of rest and relaxation at the Pigman Ranch. Photos of the members riding horses in cowboy-style outfits still circulate today. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of their visit, Alton hosted a weekend-long “Beatlemania” event in 2014 to memorialize the famed group.
“We worked really hard to get that information out in a large area,” says Brenda Ledgerwood, president of the ACF. “We had people from other states; various places. We had a big, big weekend.”