Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Santa Monica Education Foundation (Ed Foundation)?

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that exists solely to raise funds for the Santa Monica public schools.

The Ed Foundation is a separate organization from the district, with our own Board of Directors and staff. Since 1982, the Ed Foundation has supported programs at
schools through annual donations, permanently endowed funds, special events, and other earned income.

What do Ed Foundations donations fund?

Annual donations to Ed Foundation fund arts education for all Santa Monica elementary students, elementary instructional assistants and stretch grants for each
school. Most schools use these grants for STEM education, additional arts programs, student wellness and/or professional development for teachers.

You can learn about all the programs funded by Ed Foundation donations on our Programs Overview page and see a complete list of programs funded at each school on our Programs by School page.

Why do public schools need private donations?

California consistently ranks low in funding for K-12 education among the 50 states. There is little or no state funding for the important staff and programs that make the difference for our children, like art, additional STEM programs, instructional assistants, and social-emotional learning programs.

Why should I donate to the Ed Foundation?

Donating to the Ed Foundation is vitally important to ensure we maintain high-quality programs for all students. The Ed Foundation is the only fundraising organization allowed to raise money for staff and programs at all Santa Monica schools. These programs change our students’ lives every day and make our local public schools strong.

Parent participation is crucial. Not only do your donations fund incredible programs for our students, they also show that our community supports our schools. The Ed Foundation routinely requests donations from local businesses, corporations, and foundations. They often ask about parent participation. Corporate and major gift donors are more likely to invest when they see a high percentage of our school community donating.

Should I give to both Ed Foundation and the PTA at my school? Why do donations to these organizations fund different things?

YES, please donate to both the Ed Foundation and your PTA! We’re all in this together. Both PTA and the Ed Foundation are critical funding sources for local schools.

Donations to the Ed Foundation pay for staff and programs during the school day at all Santa Monica schools. The Ed Foundation is the only organization that can fundraise for these programs. The district made the decision to centralize fundraising for these programs to ensure that every student has equitable access to quality enrichment programs and to correct human resource liability issues arising from nonprofits hiring additional staff. All annual donations to the Ed Foundation are granted to the district to be spent on staff and programs. For more information about this district policy, see our Mission and History page.

PTAs raise funds for necessary “stuff” such as supplies, equipment, field trips and assemblies at their school sites. Donating to both the Ed Foundation and PTA is very important.

Remember - the Ed Foundation is the only organization that can fund staff and programs. If you value instructional assistants, arts programs, and important enrichment programs, please donate to the Ed Foundation.

Who decides how donations are spent?

The SMMUSD Board of Education decides which programs will be funded by annual donations to the Ed Foundation. The Superintendent makes recommendations to the
Board of Education based on input from the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee (SAC), professional knowledge, and research-based best practices. SAC is a group of District stakeholders, including principals, teachers, staff, parents and community members.

The SAC meets a few times each year to collaborate, provide school site input, and make recommendations on fundraising goals and strategies. Meetings facilitate enhanced communication among PTAs, SMMUSD administration, principals, school staff and the Ed Foundation to ensure successful ongoing funding for staff and programs. The SAC is comprised of the following positions:

How does the Ed Foundation give funds to SMMUSD to spend at Santa Monica schools?
Each August, the Ed Foundation gives a presentation to the SMMUSD Board of Education telling them how much can be spent on annually funded programs for that school year. On a monthly basis, SMMUSD then bills the Ed Foundation for these programs. Contrary to what some people think, the Ed Foundation does not give a big check to the District each year. The Ed Foundation has a complete understanding of how every dollar is spent by the District.

Who can help with fundraising?
Everyone! ALL parents, volunteers, booster groups, PTA leaders, principals and teachers, district administrators, School Board members, local businesses…we need everyone working together to raise funds to ensure the continued excellence that characterizes our schools. For information about volunteering, see our Volunteer page.

How do Ed Foundation donations impact secondary schools?

Donations to the Ed Foundation fund programs at all schools in Santa Monica. At secondary schools, annual donations to the Ed Foundation provide funds for stretch grants to each school. See our Programs by School page for a list of how each school uses these grants. In addition, Ed Foundation endowments fund a variety of secondary school arts programs. Booster Clubs at the high schools are currently not part of centralized fundraising. They play a tremendously important role by targeting unmet needs locally at their school.

How is the work of the Ed Foundation overseen?

The Ed Foundation is a non-profit organization led by a Board of Directors made up of dedicated volunteers from our community with professional expertise in fundraising, finance, development, business, and marketing. The Ed Foundation employs a full-time Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer, Director of Annual and Leadership Gifts, Director of Communications and Events, Marketing and Communications Associate, and a part-time Database Associate. You can learn more about staff members here. In addition, the Ed Foundation’s financial statements are audited every year by an outside third party for accuracy and transparency.

How much should I give to the Ed Foundation?

Our first goal is 100% participation. For Santa Monica school parents, the recommended donation is $750 per child, but every donation, regardless of the amount, is greatly appreciated and will impact our students. This suggested donation is neither a minimum nor a maximum; please give what you can.

Donations of $5,000 or more are eligible for Superintendent’s Circle benefits and donations of $2,500-$4,999 are eligible for Leadership Circle benefits.

What are the Ed Foundation’s endowments? 

Our four endowments provide a reliable source of funding, year after year, ensuring consistent programming. Valued at over $9.7 million dollars, these endowments fund academic, arts and music programs. For more information, see our Endowments page.