Alethea “E.C.” Setser

Volunteer and Former President
Laurel Hill Primary School PTA, Mount Pleasant,?S.C.


Best known for: Employing her fundraising finesse and grantwriting skills to supplement her school’s budget. Over two years, Setser helped the Laurel Hill PTA raise approximately $70,000 for items including classroom technology and an outdoor fitness trail.

Talking the talk: Setser first volunteered to help with the school’s website and monthly newsletter, the Loggerhead Ledger (named for the school’s mascot), then became PTA secretary and chaired several events. “Every time I opened my mouth at a board meeting with a new idea, the answer was, ‘Great idea, E.C., why don’t you head that one up?’” she recalls. After becoming PTA president in 2007, she implemented fundraising campaigns for the fitness initiative and technology supplies.

A prolific pen: To build the school’s new Turtle Trail—a 10-station, handicapped-accessible fitness trail with a water fountain—Setser scored $8,000 in funds from Lowe’s, CVS, and various nonprofit agencies. An additional $6,000 came from a Turtle Trot walkathon and health fair. “We raised more than enough money for the trail the first year and even donated money to the PE department to help pay for a rock climbing wall,” she says. The school was also honored that year with two state-level awards for the Turtle Trail.

Spreading the wealth: The following year’s Turtles Need Technology campaign, which consisted of grantwriting, another walkathon, and a brick sale fundraiser, netted more than $50,000 to purchase interactive whiteboards for classrooms. Under Setser’s tenure, the PTA also created a uniform closet for underprivileged students; collected more than 5 tons of food for a local food pantry; and made donations to the Special Olympics and UNICEF. The Laurel Hill PTA pays for the school nurse and the morning traffic cop outside the building, as well.

The benefits of experience: Setser, a self-described computer geek who teaches computer courses online, was also a classroom teacher for 11 years. She says that has helped her better understand what teachers need to do their jobs. “Now that I’m on the ‘parent side,’ I want to help all that I can—even if it means little sleep,” she explains. “If I can write a grant or get a group together to volunteer and help, then I will.”