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Good for Santa Barbara 2018: Noozhawk's 3rd Annual report on Nonprofits and Philanthropy
Sponsored by Montecito Bank & Trust
Nonprofit Q&A

Goleta Education Foundation Invests in a Better Educational Experience for All

3rd grade GUSD students & teacher. Click to view larger
3rd grade GUSD students & teacher. (Sara Prince photo)

The annual "Global Day of Giving" is upon us this holiday season and what better way to give back to your community then joining in on #GivingTuesday by donating to the organizations that make Santa Barbara a place we are proud to call home.

In this interview, Noozhawk sat down with Kyle Begley, Executive Director of Goleta Education Foundation, to learn more about how the nonprofit enhances educational experiences for students.

Goleta Education Foundation

Question: What is the name & mission of your nonprofit?

Answer: Goleta Education Foundation (GEF) engages the community to invest in and enhance an excellent educational experience for all students attending schools in the Goleta Union School District.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your nonprofit?

A: GEF is an avenue for the community to support the students and families of the nine elementary in the Goleta Union School District (GUSD). These nine schools serve families with a wide range of socio-economics and students with varying levels of academic performance and mastery. Through funding secured by GEF, GUSD implements additional programs that enhance the excellent educational experience for all students at the nine elementary schools.

Q: How is your nonprofit primarily funded and what are your greatest needs?

A: GEF pursues grants from individual, family, and community foundations, as well as donations from individuals, and GEF does not charge GUSD or other partnering organizations an administrative fee. Additionally, GEF hosts two annual fundraisers – the Lemon Run and a raffle at Goleta’s Finest awards banquet. GEF’s greatest needs are 1) support for programs administered on elementary school campuses to help all students reach grade-level proficiency; 2) funding for Innovation Grants to support teachers with resources to engage all levels of learners and create future ready classrooms; and 3) financial support to offset operational costs, including marketing, grant writing, and administration. Finally, GEF continues to build the board of directors with people who have a passion for the GEF mission.

Q: In what ways does your nonprofit utilize it's funding?

A: The monies raised by GEF go directly to support and expand programs for the Goleta Union School District. GEF works closely with District leadership to identify disadvantaged student populations and develop programs that benefit academic and social-emotional growth and development. Past funding of programs includes: reading intervention, expanded summer school for out-of-classroom learning on field trips, social-emotional consultation and reflective practice for preschool and transitional kindergarten teachers. Further, GEF supports interactive teacher presentation centers that allow lessons to be viewed on large screen televisions and internet access for resources that complement the lessons of the day.

Q: Can you tell us one success story from your nonprofit?

A: A collaboration with the professionals at CALM brought new resources to Goleta Valley elementary schools that are commonly found in other local school districts. An Early Childhood Consultant (a CALM therapist) was placed in the Goleta Union School District’s three preschool and four transitional kindergarten classrooms to support students, teachers, and families in social emotional health and development. As a result of the consultant being in the classroom, a child who was at risk of being expelled due to violent, disruptive behavior in the classroom learned more appropriate mechanisms to cope with his feelings, mitigating the need for disciplinary action. The parents also learned tools and skills from the consultant to help the child at home. Without the CALM therapist in the classroom to provide the child, teacher, and parents with new skills and techniques to cope with the inappropriate behavior, the child’s academic future would be greatly at risk.

Q: What makes your nonprofit different from others?

A: Direct support of equity in education in Goleta Valley elementary schools did not exist prior to the formation of GEF, and no other nonprofit or foundation has the mission to exclusively support the education of GUSD students. As GUSD is only focused on elementary education at nine schools, it is an ideal testing ground for innovative programs that will make our elementary schools, teachers, and students more future ready. GEF partners with other community service providers to bring services and programs to GUSD students and families that support the transition to junior high, high school, and beyond.

Q: How do people get involved/volunteer for your nonprofit?

A: GEF is almost entirely run by volunteers, from those on the board of directors to people who assist with Lemon Run organization and implementation. We are always looking for board members who are engaged in the Goleta Valley community, who are passionate about elementary education, and who can adopt a global perspective of the needs of all of our schools, regardless of their own individual neighborhood school. Community members interested in being considered for the board of directors or as a volunteer on one of our committees should visit the website at: www.goletaeducationfoundation.org.

Q: How has your nonprofit transformed since you first began?

A: When GEF began in the 1980s, the focus was largely on providing funding for art, music, and physical education. Goleta Valley community members baked lemon bars to sell at the Lemon Festival and hosted a Fun Run to raise money to support education. As time passed, the landscape of educational funding continued to change. In 2014, GEF underwent a complete overhaul, and broadened its mission to include supporting the overall education of Goleta Valley elementary students. Today, art programs continue to be funded, as do programs that improve classroom technology, address the specific needs of diverse student populations, and help develop the social emotional health of our young scholars.

Q: What types of fundraisers and/or programs does your nonprofit run?

A: GEF holds two annual fundraisers. Every September, honoring the roots of the organization, the Lemon Run, consisting of 10-kilometer, 5-kilometer, and 1-kilometer races, is held. Proceeds from the Lemon Run support Innovation Grants, funds that are given directly to teachers with truly innovative ideas to bring novel resources and approaches to teaching to the classroom. GEF also holds a fundraiser, usually a raffle, each year at the Goleta’s Finest awards banquet to help fulfill the mission of engaging the community to invest in enhancing an excellent educational experience for Goleta Valley elementary school students.  

Q: Can you tell us one short-term goal and one long-term goal that your nonprofit has?

A: One of GEF’s short-term goals is generating awareness and financial support for GEF Innovation Grants, given directly to GUSD teachers and specialists who bring innovative learning to the classroom. In this second year, GEF will give Innovation Grants of up to $2500 to teachers with proposals to make Goleta Valley elementary school classrooms future ready. In total, GEF will give up to $10,000 in grants to support innovation in the classroom. In the next few years, GEF plans to increase the amount of money available for teachers with the hope of introducing resources to reach and engage all levels of learners.

GEF’s long-term goal is to establish more strategic partnerships with local businesses, in addition to continuing to strengthen relationships with local foundations and individual donors. Ultimately, GEF hopes to establish and grow an endowment to continually generate income, allowing the organization to more effectively raise funds through an improved ability to pay staff for grant writing, marketing, and networking.

Click here to make a donation to Goleta Education Foundation.


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