Nearly 80 community members joined the Santa Barbara Education Foundation on Thursday in celebrating 30 years of dedicated service to Santa Barbara’s public schools and students.

SBEF is the only organization in Santa Barbara that raises districtwide support for every one of the 16,000 students in the 22 schools that make up the Santa Barbara Unified School District, raising funds for vital programs including art and music instruction, musical instruments, early childhood education, family and community engagement, college readiness, and intervention programs for at-risk high school students.

The anniversary celebration brought together politicians, Santa Barbara Unified School District personnel, SBEF donors, SBEF-funded program directors, and past and present board members and presidents of the foundation.

Among the guests were Assemblyman Das Williams, Superintendent David Cash, retiring Superintendent Brian Sarvis, district board president Kate Parker and vice president Edward Heron.

Guests were greeted by SBHS ninth-grade student Thomas Everest playing piano in the lobby area, and a small orchestra of five female students from Adams Elementary kicked off the program with captivating sounds of the saxophone, clarinet, flute and cello.

Craig Price, SBEF board president, provided a brief history of the foundation.

“The seeds of this organization were sewn on Sept. 12, 1984, when our school district was faced with severe budget cuts that would have eliminated most, if not all, arts enrichment programs,” Price said. “Over the years, in addition to enhancing these programs, the foundation’s support has helped provide students with playground equipment, library materials, technology tools, musical instruction and instruments, and preschool literacy.”


Adams Elementary School students Kelly Garnand (cello), Nicola Parker (flute), Jessica Quiroz (clarinet), Litzy Segundo (clarinet) and Katie Carlos (alto sax) kick off the Santa Barbara Education Foundation’s 30th birthday bash with their music. (Santa Barbara Education Foundation photo)

“The Santa Barbara Education Foundation is about early literacy all the way to college preparation,” said Dr. David Cash, superintendent of the Santa Barbara Unified School District. “Over the last 30 years, the foundation has raised more than $128 million to support the education of K-12 students in Santa Barbara.”

SBEF has led successful bond and parcel tax campaigns raising $110 million for much-needed capital improvements and more than $18 million for music, science, art, technology and other programs critical to a well-rounded education.

“In recent years, the foundation has really expanded their efforts,” Price said. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all our supporters and look forward to the next 30 years of ensuring excellence in our public schools.”

Margie Yahyavi, executive director of SBEF, offered a brief highlight of the community programs supported by the foundation, including The Academy at Dos Pueblos, Youth Violence Prevention, Mobile Waterford, and SBEF’s summer school program which launched last year for high school students looking to get ahead.

“We are so proud to be part of a community that understands the value of public education,” Yahyavi said. “Our community’s dedication has had a great impact on the lives of students in Santa Barbara — our supporters, the district and especially the program directors. They work so hard to catch those students who are falling through the cracks and give them the tools they need to get a meaningful education.”

To learn more about Santa Barbara Education Foundation and programs it supports, click here or call 805.284.9125.

— Daniella Alkobi is a publicist representing the Santa Barbara Education Foundation.