SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

August 30, 2013

Column: Foundation focuses on supporting schools; want to help?

Janine Matho
The Salem News

---- — As it is for many people who support our community, volunteerism is an integral part of family life for those of us who volunteer for the Salem Education Foundation.

We squeeze this work in between conference calls, while caring for our families, and on nights and weekends, but Salem’s schools are always a priority. A board of 15, we are business leaders, educators and parents, and we work collaboratively alongside hundreds of volunteers, partners and donors from throughout our community who also donate their time, expertise or financial resources. Our goal is to raise awareness of, and interest in, the Salem Public Schools and to find ways to support teachers and the community.

This spring, the Salem Education Foundation will celebrate its 20th anniversary. In the past 20 years, the foundation has donated $500,000 to education initiatives in Salem, and our volunteers have given thousands of hours supporting the schools. We are grateful to the corporate sponsors, private donors and volunteers throughout the community who generously sustain our work.

Our goals and activities are shaped by the times we live in, and this year, we remain focused on two main areas: supporting sustained improvement of the Salem Public Schools, and creating opportunities for widespread community engagement and collaboration in the turnaround process. We are strong supporters of the current school and district improvement efforts, and we view “community” as an essential partner in sustaining improvement. Many of our efforts this year are about promoting widespread communication about what’s happening in Salem schools.

Here are some of the highlights of our work for 2013-14:

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

Community Conversations: These free, education-focused gatherings will take place throughout the year in public spaces and homes in English and Spanish. The first meeting is the School Committee Candidate Forum on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club. This meeting is free and open to the public. Translation and childcare will be provided. If you’re interested in hosting a community conversation about education, please email us at info@salemeducationfoundation.org.

Education Now / Educación Ahora Community Newspaper: This free, bilingual community newspaper is focused entirely on Salem schools and other local education-related news. The paper will be published in October 2013 and April 2014. Interested in writing an article or telling us about your classroom or helping us deliver newspapers? Volunteers and sponsors needed.

School-based Teacher & Parent Ambassadors: Volunteer teachers and parents from each school are identified annually to serve as liaisons between schools and the Salem Education Foundation. Reach out if you’d like to volunteer.

Education Day 2014: A community day providing free educational activities for students of all ages (adults included). Education Day will be held Saturday, May 10, 2014, and will be based in Old Town Hall and Derby Square. Volunteers and partners needed.

GRANTMAKING

Fund-A-Need: The Hats Off to Education gala and auction raised $8,500 in private donations for Fund-A-Need; these funds will be directed to students in Salem Public Schools. These funds will provide backpacks filled with school supplies for every entering kindergarten student on free or reduced-priced lunch. These funds will also support Salem High student-athletes by offering partial support for their annual sports fees, and to middle school students for music and arts enrichment activities, including musical instrument rental.

Grants to teachers: Grant applications are being accepted from public school teachers this fall through Oct. 4; grants will be announced in November 2014. Last year, a total of $22,000 in teacher grants was awarded to Salem teachers in support of innovative classroom learning activities.

FUNDRAISING

Food for Thought Raffle: The popular “win dinner for two anywhere in the world” raffle picks up in October; the winner will be announced prior to Halloween. PTOs can participate and earn $1 for every ticket they sell over 100 tickets. The school that sells the most tickets earns a place at the front of the line in the Haunted Happenings Parade. Volunteers needed.

Hats Off to Education – 20th Anniversary Celebration: The foundation’s annual gala and auction will take place Friday, May 9, 2014. This is our primary annual fundraiser and supports all of our activities throughout the year. Volunteers and sponsors needed.

For more information about the Salem Education Foundation and how you can get involved, email info@salemeducationfoundation.org.

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Janine Matho is president of the Salem Education Foundation.