As students head back to school this month, the Millbrae Education Foundation is getting amped up for another year of community organizing and fundraising for local schools.
The non-profit organization has raised several hundred thousand dollars in the past few years for the Millbrae School District -- money that has been used to hire new teachers, start new programs and rejuvenate programs that had ended because of budget cuts.
MEF raised $260,000, which was a nearly $100,000 increase from the previous year's efforts.
The 260K is being used this academic year to fund a brand new technology program that provides instruction for students and includes two newly hired teachers.
MEF President Karen Bettucchi said that a grant from the Peninsula Health Care District for funding a counselor at Taylor Middle School, PE and other health initiatives freed up MEF funds to create the technology program.
MEF's fundraising has also paid for a district-wide communication system that makes it possible for school administrators to contact all parents within a minute's time, Bettucchi said. This will be the system's second year.
The organization's biggest fundraiser, Donation Days, will be Oct. 9-10 this year. On those days, MEF volunteers will be stationed at Millbrae schools, asking parents to donate $450 per student, or however much they are able to.
For Donation Days, "we have tiered goals this year," Bettucchi said. "If we can raise $320,000, maybe we can hire four teachers for the district, or $400,000 can hire five -- and with those teachers come new programs."
Until then, MEF is organizing community leaders, businesses, and interested residents to help fund the annual Community Challenge Grant that will be used to match what money parents' give during Donation Days. Last year the Community Challenge Grant was $20,000.
Bettucchi said that MEF is keeping track of state Proposition 30, which will be on this November's ballot; yet it doesn't have much bearing on how hard MEF organizes this year.
"If it doesn’t pass, the district is going to be required to come up with more money because there's going to be further cuts," she said. "But even if it does pass, we still want to raise as much as we can. We don’t want to see our school district take another hit and more cuts to our schools. In terms of how hard we’re going to fund raise – we'll raise everything we can no matter what."
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