Public School Education Foundations In Ventura County & Surrounding Communities

Education Foundations in Ventura County

(Ventura County, Ca) It’s that time of year where school begins and teachers are scrambling to get all the tools & resources they need for the classroom. With more and more fiscal responsibility being transferred from the state down to local budgets, public schools continue to be strained with the myriad of needs they would like fulfilled in classrooms, in after school programs, and elsewhere around campus.

Education foundations, entities that assist local school districts with budget gaps around specific needs, are similar to what endowments are to universities. The education foundation can provide needed teachers or staff, tools, and other resources to public K-12 school districts. While education foundations are not the only funding source for school districts (often times PTA’s and program specific charities exist to fund school specific needs), education foundations allow for funds to be allocated at the district level.

National Surveys by industry magazine “Education Week” have compiled the list of “Top 50 Education Foundations” in the country. Notable education foundations in California include Irvine Public Schools Foundation (#3), Oakland Public Education Fund (#16), Silicon Valley Education Foundation (#17), San Francisco Education Fund (#34), and West Contra Costa Education Fund (#50).

But how are education foundations doing in Ventura County and surrounding areas?

The Voice La Voz Newspaper spoke with many education foundations in Ventura County over the last 4-6 weeks. In that time, we compiled publicly available information along with information obtained from interviews and discussions.

Overall, we observed the role that education foundations can play in community building and in providing opportunities for larger scope programs than one school can offer on their own.

Education Foundation Fundraising
Education Foundations Fundraising from 2001-2016.

Our interviews reflect very divergent views on the roles of education foundations versus Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA’s). There was also a varied approach to the methods people took to raise funds and ultimately how those funds should be used.

The following includes information obtained from interviews with foundations and from public data sources including the California Secretary of State website, the U.S. Census, and the information published on the foundations websites. Interviews were conducted with leadership of almost all of the foundations.

 

Simi Valley Education Foundation

Executive Director: Cindy Jacoby

President: Mike James

Officers: 5

Board Members: 21

Executive Director: 1

Community Advisory Board: 5

Sample Organizations Also Supporting the Community:

  • Simi Valley PTA / PTSA Council: $29,565 (2017)
  • Simi Valley High PTSA: $35,797 (2017)
  • Simi Valley High School Basketball: $69,314 (2017)
  • Royal High Aquatics Booster: $72,920 (2017)
  • Royal High Boys Volleyball: $22,283 (2017)
  • Santa Susana High School PTSA: $9,868 (2017)

Mission: The mission of the Simi Valley Education Foundation is to bring together community and civic entities in providing additional resources to students in Simi Valley’s public schools through student scholarships, classroom and department/grade level grants, and providing resources for our youth. Through community support, program development, and collaboration, the Foundation seeks to strengthen our public schools and the education they provide to our children.

Major Fundraiser: Tee Up for Kidz Golf Tournament (Friday, September 14, 2018)  and the Annual Lew Roth Awards & Gala Dinner (Winter / Spring 2019). SVEF’s gala alone yields $90,000 for the foundation.

Comments from Leadership: “The money that people give affects the community so deeply,” explained Mike James, President of SVEF. “Bond measures focus on facilities and we focus on the classrooms.” James talked about growing up in Simi Valley and his passion for his community. “I live next to my 3rd grade teacher now. I love my community and want to help us all do the best job to support our community.”

For more information, click here.

2016-2017 Funds Raised: $111,664

Simi Valley Population: 127, 167 (2016)

Simi Valley Median Income: $93,296 (2016)

Simi Valley K-12 Enrollment: 19,486 (2016)

Simi Valley Media Home Value: $508,250

 

T.H.E. Foundation for Las Virgenes Schools

Executive Director: None

President: Jeannie Abraham

Executive Board: 5

Board Members: 6

Sample Organizations Also Supporting the Community:

Calabasas High School Baseball Foundation: $107,209

Calabasas High School Coyote Club: $477,093

Calabasas High School Music Boosters: $0

Calabasas High School Parent Faculty Club: $293,308

Agoura High School Arts PTSA: $375

Agoura High School Parent-Faculty Club: $155,399

Agoura High School International Baccalaureate Parents Association: $96,617

 

Background: The 70’s happened. It was called ‘The Tax Revolt.’ And it took school funding away from the community, and gave it to Sacramento. Slowly but surely, California fell to 49th in the country in per-student funding. And schools that had once been the envy of the nation began to fall apart. Teachers were let go. Libraries withered. Even school nurses’ jobs were cut. That’s when parents began to form Education Foundations. We realized that if we wanted our kids to have something other than the bare minimum, we needed to go beyond what the state was doling out. Given the choice, we wouldn’t do it this way. But we have to. We have no choice. It’s the only way your child and our child and everyone’s child is going to get the kind of education they need to succeed in college, and in life. Please join us. It’s a huge task. But we can do it!

California handles school finance differently than most every other state. Most states allow towns and counties to levy taxes to finance their schools. In California, school funding is controlled by the state legislature. For us, the legislature determines  how much money we’ll get every year for each student enrolled. And that’s it. It puts us at 47th in the country for per-student funding. The most generous states spend as much as three times more.

Mission: The  Foundation for Las Virgenes Schools raises money to improve and enhance education in the Las Virgenes Unified School District (LVUSD).  The Foundation helps fill the gap between what the state provides the district and what it costs to provide a well-rounded, quality education for students. The Foundation for Las Virgenes Schools is the only organization that can pay for credentialed classroom teachers and counselors.

Major Fundraiser: By far the largest fundraiser is “The Event” (Summer 2019) with “The Carnival” (September 7-9, 2018 with Free admission) as the 2nd best fundraiser. The Event is truly a community event where everyone from the mayor to local business owners and members of the community attend an outdoor event and enjoy diverse food and beverage tastings along with  near rock concert entertainment. The carnival brings in a 3rd party carnival that also hosts events at the Ventura County Fair and the Malibu Chili Cook-off, which provides great entertainment without the need for event organization or volunteer drives.

Comments From Leadership: “T.H.E. Foundation began in 2010 with a crisis call to parents for an emergency fund to help save teachers that would be lost in dramatic budget cuts,” shared Craig Berman, Board Secretary (and previous President). “The group endured and created the foundation to formalize their parent and community organized efforts to support the schools. These events are an outpouring of community members coming together. From the mayor to local business owners, students and parents. It feels like a community is really coming together at these events.”

For more information, click here.

2016-2017 Funds Raised: $151,641

Calabasas / Agoura / Westlake Village Population: 24,263 / 21,211 / 8,384 (2016)

Calabasas / Agoura / Westlake Village Median Income: $125,879 / $110,107  / $107,667 (2016)

Calabasas / Agoura / Westlake Village K-12 Enrollment: 4,637 / 4,959  / 423 (2016)

Calabasas / Agoura / Westlake Village Median Home Value: $1,151,000 / $729,000 / $967,500 (2016)

 

Conejo Schools Foundation

Executive Director: Cindy Goldberg

President: Michael Soules

Officers: 5

Board Members: 12

Executive Director and Staff: 2

Stakeholder Council: 8

Advisory Committee (required $5k donation): 7

Sample Organizations Also Supporting the Community:

  • Westlake High School Football Boosters Club, Inc.: $176,950
  • Westlake High School Instrumental Music Boosters: $252,333.39
  • Conejo Council of Parent Teachers Association: $8,407
  • Thousand Oaks High PTSA: $26,275
  • Thousand Oaks School Band Booster: $224,232
  • Westlake High School PTSA: $98,557
  • Westlake High School Baseball Boosters: $101,375
  • Newbury Park High School Booster Club: $1,148,371

Background: The Conejo Schools Foundation Board is comprised of volunteers from the community including parents, teachers, PTA & PFA presidents, business & civic leaders and school administrators.

Major Fundraiser: Conejo Schools Foundation’s largest fundraiser is the “Get Ahead” Summer School Program. CSF manages the summer school program and charges students to attend. In 2016, this yielded $349,095. The program charges students $300 for P.E. or Health and $600 for any other course. According to the September 4th  CVUSD Board meeting, approximately 800 students attended in Summer 2018 with 90 receiving scholarships. In conversation with other school districts, only CVUSD charges for their summer school program. LVUSD and Santa Monica- Malibu used to charge for their summer school but both discontinued the programs.

Comments From Leadership: “Advisory Committee members can also join CSF with a $5,000 donation,” stated Michael Soules.  According to the website:

This is a committee that was developed from a partnership of business and civic leaders greatly interested in the Conejo Valley Unified School District and its continued success.

Individuals may become a part of the Advisory Committee at any time by committing to a gift of $5,000. Tax-deductible gifts may be made in one of four ways:

  • Donate a lump sum of $5,000
  • Pledge $2,500 a year over the next two years
  • Donate stock with a market value of $5,000

As an Advisory Committee member, you will be recognized publicly (with your permission), and invited to the fun and interesting programs planned for Advisory Committee members throughout the year. You will have opportunities to meet other community leaders who are committed to Conejo Valley’s standards for a world class education.

Specifically, Advisory Committee, receive many forms of public recognition for their leadership and commitment to Conejo’s public schools.

For more information, click here.

2016-2017 Funds Raised: $661,006

Thousand Oaks Population: 132,365 (2016)

Thousand Oaks Median Income: $109,290 (2016)

Thousand Oaks K-12 Enrollment: 18,500 (2018)

Thousand Oaks Median Home Value: $655,000 (2016)

 

Pleasant Valley Education Foundation

Executive Director: Sharon Taylor

President: Bob Taylor (not related)

Board Members: 8

Staff: 1

Sample Organizations Also Supporting the Community:

  • Pleasant Valley Preschool: $118,197
  • Pleasant Valley School of Engineering & Arts PTA: $24,546 (2017)

 

Mission: Over the last several years, PVEF has provided the funds for:

  • Virtual Science Lab Project, which equipped classrooms with laptop computers
  • Interactive SMART Boards which connect to computers and energize classroom presentations
  • Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Band Programs
  • District-Wide Strings Program
  • Early Music Education (Flutophones for Elementary Schools)
  • ELMO Cameras and Projectors for every public school in Camarillo

Major Fundraiser: As of 2017, the foundation no longer maintains its donor base to subsidize major arts events. Only events that are self-sustaining remain. This includes Robotics Roundup, a collaboration with LEGO group.

Comments from Leadership: “After the recession, our donor base really fell away. We just never recovered.”

For more information, click here.

Pleasant Valley 2016 Funds Raised: $61,243

Pleasant Valley Population: 69,924 (2016)

Pleasant Valley Median Income: $92,195 (2016)

Pleasant Valley K-12 Enrollment: 10,436 (2016)

Pleasant Valley Media Home Value: $550,000

 

Santa Barbara Education Foundation

NOTE: As of the date of this article, we have not heard back from Santa Barbara Education Foundation.

2016-2017 Funds Raised: $3,289,147

Santa Barbara Population: 93,640 /  (2016)

Santa Barbara Median Income: $74,120 (2016)

Santa Barbara K-12 Enrollment: 8,974 (2016)

 

Unique Foundation Model

After discussion with several education foundations in Ventura County, it appears most follow a model around community outreach and event based fundraising. To read more, click here.

Ventura County Local News. Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Ventura, Santa Paula, Moorpark. Visit us for the latest local news information for Ventura County at www.thevoicecalifornia.com

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