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March 11, 2014 > Red Carpet gala supports New Haven schools

Red Carpet gala supports New Haven schools

By Emma Victoria G. Blanco

It may not be the Golden Globes or the Oscars, but the Tri-City area is gearing up for its own lavish red carpet event. The New Haven Schools Foundation (NHSF) is thrilled to present its highly anticipated annual fundraiser. This yearÕs gala is a Hollywood-movie premiere themed event where guests can look forward to a gourmet dinner and trying their luck at casino games. Guests attending "A Night on the Red Carpet" are in for a treat Ð an evening filled with amusements and entertainment, all for a worthwhile cause.

It is a cause that is dear to Bridget Russell, NHSF Board Member and the eventÕs planner. Russell is looking forward to Òseeing the community come together to support the schools and have great time while doing it.Ó When asked about what guests should expect at the gala, she replied, Ò[The] atmosphere is festive - everyone is dressed up. [The] food is delicious, [the] drinks are great and [there are] wonderful items to bid on at the auction. Everyone [crowds] around the casino tables, gambling with their funny money that they can turn into raffle tickets for some great prizes.Ó

NHSF President Rebecca Venable is just as enthused to see what Russell and her team have done. Ò[They] have been working very hard planning every detail of this yearÕs theme, I [am excited] to see what they have come up with this year.Ó Venable hopes that the gala raises over $20,000 to help the Foundation fulfill its mission of innovating and enriching educational opportunities for New Haven Unified students. She stated, ÒThe gala is the FoundationÕs largest fundraising event. [It has allowed us] to help fund Co-Curricular programs for the high schools and middle schools in the way of stipends for Assistant Coaches and Directors. We have also been able to fund Innovations in Education, our classroom mini-grant programs for elementary schools.Ó

Something new and exciting being added to the event this year is a photo booth. Guests can channel their inner celebrity and use Hollywood-themed props and costumes and pose for glamorous movie star photos to take home. As in previous years, guests can look forward to the lively competitive bidding during the Live Auction. The Silent Auction will feature many sought-after items, from wine tasting vouchers to a cooking class at FedericoÕs Tapas and Wine Bar. And guests in search of luxury accommodations can bid on a one-night stay at a historic San Francisco hotel.

Gala tickets are priced at $100 per person (or $175 per pair) and include appetizers, a buffet dinner, dessert, espresso and tea, as well as Ò$1,000Ó in play chips to try their luck at blackjack, roulette, and other casino games. Back by popular demand is the Texas Hold 'Em tournament and those who are eager to participate can do so with an additional $25 entry fee.

The gala will take place at the Mark Green Sports Center in Union City. Semi-formal attire is requested and attendees must be 21 years and older. Guests are encouraged to park their vehicles at Holly Center and take advantage of the complimentary shuttle service between both sites that will be provided throughout the evening.

All proceeds from the event go toward supporting quality student activities and educational programs. Since its inception in 1981, the NHSF, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has provided supplemental financial support to the youth of the New Haven Unified District community. According to Helen Kennedy, the FoundationÕs Executive Director, in spite of state budget cuts that have plagued local communities in recent years, Òthe Foundation, in partnership with the New Haven Boosters Association (NHBA), has literally saved student activities from the chopping block.Ó

To date, NHSF has three main grant programs: Innovations in Education (classroom mini-grant programs for elementary schools), Project Enrichment (mini-grant program to promote co-curricular and extra-curricular activities), and Pathways to Success (a scholarship program for high school seniors). Last year, the Foundation awarded over $70,000 to New Haven graduates.

The continuity of such programs is critical to preserving New Haven School District efforts to develop and empower its students. These programs are why fundraising events like this gala are so vital. ÒWhat we do is very, very important,Ó said Kennedy. She added, ÒThe social aspect [of the gala] creates an opportunity to mingle with people who really care about our youth. Connections are made and friendships forged. It is nice to have a chance to socialize outside of business hours with others who share our purpose. We can only do this with the generous support of our community.Ó

Maintaining the FoundationÕs productivity and success is no small feat and Kennedy commends the Board membership for their commitment. ÒOur board is composed of educators, parents, civic and business leaders, and together, we find ways to simply step in and help provide good learning experiences.Ó The NHSF Board is dedicated to providing New Haven students with encouragement to succeed and opportunities to be engaged and inspired. Come join them at the gala and have fun while doing great things.

A Night on the Red Carpet
Saturday, Mar 22
6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Mark Green Sports Center
31224 Union City Blvd., Union City
(510) 909-9263
Tickets: $100 per person, $175 per pair

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