Educational foundation hopes to raise $500K for art programs

Glendale Educational Foundation officials hope to follow one banner year with another, announcing an ambitious $500,000 fundraising goal on Thursday to benefit local school music programs.

The sum would double the $250,000 raised during the 2010-11 school year, a record for a schools-focused nonprofit that is trying to gain visibility with residents and business owners in Glendale.

“This is really a big leap for us,” said foundation President Laurel Patric. “We will be doubling the amount of donations given to us, and in turn we will be able to give that money to the students of our school district.”

The announcement came during the seventh annual State of the Schools Breakfast, which drew 500 people to Edison Elementary School to hear Supt. Dick Sheehan and others speak about recent district accomplishments and goals.

Glendale Unified continues to distinguish itself with diverse program offerings and high state standardized test scores, Sheehan said, adding that nearly all schools have exceeded the 800-point Academic Index Performance threshold recognized as an indicator of a high-performing school.

“The board of education continually challenges the district staff to find ways of reaching and meeting the needs of all of our students and preparing them for real-life possibilities and opportunities ahead,” Sheehan said.

A $270-million school bond passed by voters in April will allow the district to further its mission of preparing students for the 21st Century, the second-year superintendent said.

Sheehan also highlighted the work of the foundation, which during recent budget cuts took on responsibilities such as providing supplementary summer school classes that the district could not afford to offer.

“I would like to acknowledge the hard work of the Glendale Educational Foundation and all of the monies they have contributed to the Glendale schools on behalf of our students,” Sheehan said. “The Glendale Educational Foundation provides focus for so much of the impressive support this district enjoys from our community and business partners.”

The State of the Schools Breakfast is one of two major annual fundraising events for the foundation. The second is the Dancing with Diamonds Gala dinner that usually takes place in February.

The organization was relaunched in 2004 after having fallen dormant for more than a decade. And while it does not yet have the institutional history or financial fire power of other school district foundations — the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation recently donated $2 million to its namesake district — it is gaining traction.

Last year, Pacific BMW and Disney made donations of $50,000 and $25,000, respectively. This year, foundation officials are hoping to attract additional contributions with new business partnership and alumni programs.

The money raised this year will be used to purchase musical instruments to ensure no student will be excluded for lack of necessary equipment, Patric said.

“School districts are being forced to make so many tough choices,” Patric said. If the Glendale Educational Foundation can help fill some of those gaps that no one wants to lose, like music, like after school sports, than we are really doing our job.”

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