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February 10, 2010 > Join Fremont Education Foundation for a 'Whale of a Time'

Join Fremont Education Foundation for a 'Whale of a Time'

By Alyson Whitaker
Photos By courtesy of Nina Moore

These days, teachers face an uphill battle. Budget cuts have hit education hard, increasing class size and reducing resources available to teachers and students. State and government funding is dwindling, leaving a big gap between what teachers want to do, and what they are able to do. This is where the Fremont Education Foundation (FEF) comes in.

The Foundation, established in 1991, encourages increased community involvement and investment in Fremont schools. As an independent foundation, FEF works closely with, but is separate from, the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD).

FEF currently funds three major programs within the Fremont Unified School District: The after-school band program open to 4th through 6th graders at all elementary schools, giving students access to music instruction which has been largely eliminated from curriculum; A sportswear and equipment scholarship program encouraging greater participation in co-curricular sports and cheerleading by providing financial assistance to students who might not otherwise be able to participate; The "Innovative Education" grants support innovative quality classroom programs in grades K-12.

Innovative Education Grants was the first program sponsored by the Foundation. These grants are aimed at increasing student academic achievement, creativity, leadership, critical thinking, physical fitness and health, skills in diversity and conflict resolution, and experiences in the visual and performing arts. Individual grants are awarded for amounts up to $3,000. Over the past 16 years, 135 teacher grants have been awarded to directly benefit over 16,845 students. Much of the equipment provided serves students for multiple years.

Funding the grant programs is not an easy task, but one the Foundation takes seriously. Various fundraising events are held throughout the year, each aimed at funding a specific program.

On Friday, February 26, the Foundation will hold its eighth annual "Excellence in Education Gala." In addition to raising funds for the Innovative Education Grant program, each year a FUSD employee and a community member are recognized at the celebration for contributions to the education of Fremont youth. This year's FUSD honoree is Walter Garcia, and the community honoree is Liz Elliott.

Walter Garcia works for the Fremont Adult School, responsible for filming all school board and city council meetings. In addition, he has been the behind-the-scenes cameraman filming the Fremont Education Foundation's annual Telethon, where all elementary band programs are showcased. Walter's efforts go above and beyond the call of duty, giving much of his own time to support the band program.

Liz Elliott, owner of Happy Fish Swim School in Fremont created the "Happy Fish Run for Education," the primary source of funding for the sports fund. Each year, the event has grown, and it is a thrill to see school kids, and even some parents, running around Lake Elizabeth. Liz is focused on children and is working hard to add programs for the youth of Fremont.

The theme of this year's gala is a "Whale of a Time, Going Under the Sea." Not a black tie affair, attendees are encouraged to dress for the theme. Come as your favorite sea creature or character - think Nemo, SpongeBob, or Sebastian the Crab. Not feeling that creative? No worries. A tropical shirt or beach wear will do just fine. The Foundation strives to make the event casual and fun for all in attendance.

With the support of the community and corporate donations, the Fremont Education Foundation will be able to enhance the educational experience for children in years to come.

Have a "Whale of A Time Going Under the Sea!"
Friday, February 26
5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Fremont Marriott
46100 Landing Pkwy., Fremont
(510) 409-9940

RSVP and ticket requests must be received by February 16
$75 per person (FUSD teachers/staff $50)

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