Mission & History

Our mission is to engage the community to invest in a vibrant educational experience for all students in the Santa Monica public schools.

Established in 1982 in response to devastating federal and state education budget cuts, the Santa Monica Education Foundation was organized by a dedicated group of parents, community leaders, and local business owners to enhance and supplement the curriculum of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

The 1980s and 1990s

During the first 15 years of its existence, the Ed Foundation’s fundraising grew from $25,000 to $100,000 annually. It did this mostly through a raffle and one event. Recognizing the importance of annual sustainable funds in order to support programs District-wide, the Education Foundation created an Academic Endowment in 1998. The Bells and Books of Knowledge campaign raised $1 million and donors were recognized through sculptures on the Third Street Promenade in Downtown Santa Monica, which are still there today.

The 2000s

In 2002, an active and passionate group of parents and arts supporters approached the Ed Foundation to conduct an Arts Endowment fundraising campaign, which, over three years, raised $2 million. This was a high-profile campaign with a strong Steering Committee and a stellar Honorary Committee. In addition to the Arts Endowment campaign, the Ed Foundation was raising about $250,000 annually at that time.

From 2006 to 2010, the Ed Foundation’s fundraising activities included annual appeals, benefit concerts and corporate partnership events. These fundraising efforts supported vital programs that impact students district-wide. During this time, the Ed Foundation focused on strengthening its brand and developing a strategic vision.

2010: Save Our Schools Campaign

In May 2010, in response to the State budget crisis, the SMMUSD Board of Education voted to cut key personnel and programs and said that the only way those programs could be restored was through a district-wide emergency fundraising campaign. As a result, the Ed Foundation led a Save Our Schools (SOS) campaign which raised nearly $1.6 million in 60 days! The collaboration was extraordinary and, for the first time ever, parents leveraged their contacts and resources to ensure programming for all schools. SOS was stunning and it exemplified what we are able to accomplish when we work together for a common goal.

2011: A New Board Policy - Centralized Fundraising

In November 2011, the Board of Education, faced with glaring inequities of programming in our District and the prospect of additional cuts to programming, voted to change the Board Policy 3290 Gift Policy to create a centralized fundraising model for the district. In the new model, PTAs and Booster Clubs at each school can fundraise for equipment, materials and student experiences like field trips and assemblies. Funds for additional personnel are raised through district-wide fundraising by the Ed Foundation. The Board of Education authorized the Superintendent to create a Superintendent’s Advisory Committee (SAC) to work out the implementation issues related to a centralized fundraising model. This group still meets quarterly to review programs that are funded by the Ed Foundation.

The Ed Foundation fundraising effort for district-wide programming began in 2012.

2014 - Present: Equitable Programs for all Students

District-wide Ed Foundation-funded programs were first implemented in the 2014-2015 school year. Today, your donations to the Ed Foundation, along with endowments, fund the following programs:

Please visit the Impact section of our website to see stories, testimonials, and videos that highlight the incredible impact of Ed Foundation-funded programs, on all of our students.

2018: Santa Monica Education Foundation

On June 28, 2018, the School Board approved a revision to Board Policy 3290 that changed the structure of fundraising in our district. It designated the Ed Foundation to raise funds for district-approved programs in Santa Monica schools and authorized a separate Malibu-based nonprofit (TBD) to raise funds for the same programs in Malibu schools.

With our new focus on fundraising solely for programs in Santa Monica, we are now the Santa Monica Education Foundation.

Donations to the Santa Monica Education Foundation will continue to fund outstanding programs – elementary arts, instructional assistants, ballroom dance and stretch grants – but now, only in our Santa Monica schools. A separate, Malibu-based nonprofit will fundraise for the same programs in Malibu.

The district maintains its dedication to equitable, excellent programs at every school in the district. We believe this change will lead to even stronger support for our schools in both Santa Monica and Malibu.