VENTURA : Education Group to Start Fund Drive

The Ventura Education Partnership will kick off its annual fund-raising drive today at a meeting expected to draw many of the city's top politicians and business leaders, officials said Monday.

Mayor Tom Buford said he will address the need for community members to become active participants in education. Ventura residents need to feel welcomed when they visit schools, and business owners need to be told how they can help out, Buford said.

Another goal for the coming year is to establish a permanent endowment for the nonprofit group, Buford said.

"In these times, if we really want to have an excellent community, we've got to make sure these services are funded in an adequate manner."

The group's goal is to raise $50,000 for small grants that will be distributed next year to teachers in the Ventura Unified School District, said administrator Virginia Mendoza O'Neil.

Each grant is worth $500 and can be used to pay for videos, books and other instructional materials, for which teachers do not have funding, Mendoza O'Neil said.

"Everyone knows education is important," she said. "But we as a community have to say it out loud."

Other participants in the discussion are Patrick Coons of Pacific Bell, Robert Zingg of First National Bank of Ventura and three Ventura school board members: Diane Harriman, Velma Lomax and Jim Wells.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. in the library at De Anza Middle School.

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