Franklin Elementary School

Hanging inside the Treats frozen yogurt shop on Ocean Park Boulevard is an electric bicycle that the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation is auctioning off to raise money for the local school district.

But with fewer than 100 days remaining in its fundraising campaign and still just halfway to its goal of $4 million, SMMEF seemingly will have to, ahem, peddle faster.

The foundation, which oversees fundraising for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, is tasked with scraping together another $2 million between now and the end of June to pay for a variety of personnel and enrichment programs in the upcoming school year.

In other words, officials must bring in an average of $20,000 per day for the remainder of the initiative.

“We realize it’s a short time, but we know how powerful this community can be when they decide to work together,” SMMEF Executive Director Linda Greenberg said. “We’re encouraging everyone to work together. I know we can do this — I’ve seen it before.”

The $2-million gap highlights the initial challenges of the district’s centralized fundraising model, which was recently implemented to cover the costs of instructional assistants, literacy coaches and other faculty as well as elementary arts education, professional development and enrichment programs.

The district’s Superintendent Advisory Committee arrived at the target fundraising figure after analyzing spending priorities, Greenberg said, and a shortfall could have serious consequences for Santa Monica and Malibu campuses.

“It took until December or January for anyone at the school sites to know and understand what programs were being funded through SMMEF,” Greenberg said. “For some schools the programs existed before, but now we’re funding them through a different mechanism. I don’t think they realized that, in order to keep them, they need to donate to SMMEF.”

The education foundation reached the halfway benchmark through a variety of networks and events.

District families have donated about 45 percent of the money, Greenberg said. The remainder has come from businesses, community members, foundations, event proceeds and investments, Greenberg said.

The organization raised about $60,000 through its annual benefit concert, which was held at Barnum Hall in February, and pulled in more than $10,000 combined through recent fundraising events at Will Rogers, Franklin and Grant elementary schools.

A district-wide shoe drive, during which more than 4,500 pounds of shoes were collected, brought in another $3,200 for SMMEF.

“The $2 million raised thus far is a huge statement of support for all our students and these programs,” Supt. Sandra Lyon said in a release. “We are so grateful to SMMEF and all the donors who have helped us get this far. Raising $2 million is an amazing achievement; however, if we do not reach the $4-million goal, arts and enrichment programs in the district will potentially be cut for the next school year.”

Foundation officials plan to extend their tentacles over the final 100 days of the fundraising campaign.

Every $50 donated to SMMEF through April 14 equals one entry into the raffle for the aforementioned Pedego electric bike, which is valued at $2,732. A drawing for the winner will be held April 15 at Treats.

“They wanted to incentive the community to help raise additional funding,” Greenberg said of the two partners. “We appreciate that kind of collaboration.”

The foundation is hoping to collect more than $100,000 at its second annual Pier Party, which will be held April 26. The event at Pacific Park will feature rides, games food, children’s activities, music and entertainment.

Meanwhile, Greenberg and SMMEF Director of Major Gifts Tova Joffe Larsen will be trying to secure large-scale donations and Associate Director Rachel Faulkner will be working with individual schools.

For more information, visit www.smmef.org.

Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, jeff@www.smdp.com or on Twitter.

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