Hoping for a fast start to its annual fundraiser, the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation ramped up its outreach efforts at the start of the school year.

And the results have been promising, executive director Linda Greenberg said.

The Santa Monica-Malibu school district’s nonprofit fundraising arm has made encouraging strides in the opening weeks of the fall term, according to data presented by Greenberg to the Board of Education earlier this month.

“We had unparalleled collaboration getting ready for this school year,” Greenberg said. “It’s been incredible.”

Greenberg said she was pleased with the first two months of the campaign as the education foundation continues educating stakeholders and community members about its recently implemented and hotly debated centralized fundraising system.

SMMEF raised about $2.36 million in a 17-month cycle that ended June 30, well short of its goal of $4 million.

The 2014-2015 campaign, which was extended to align future fundraisers with the school district’s calendar, supported arts and enrichment programming as well as academic support staff and professional development.

This school year, the education foundation is expected to generate $2.5 million. Money raised by SMMEF will now support arts programming and instructional assistants in elementary schools as well as enrichment grants for students in all grades, while literacy coaches and professional development will be covered through the district’s general fund.

The education foundation amassed more than $569,000 in gifts and pledges in the first two months of the current fundraiser, which Greenberg said was a 20-percent increase over last year’s total at this time.

Those gifts and pledges came from 784 different donors, including 581 who gave last year, 136 new contributors and 67 who donated in the past but not in the last cycle.

About 9 percent of families in the district had donated to the campaign as of the end of August, Greenberg said.

“We’re going to push hard so that most of our funds will be in by the end of the calendar year,” she said.

Families are asked to give $700 per student per year, Greenberg said, adding, “It really is about giving what you can.”

Giving rates still vary dramatically among SMMUSD employees, according to Greenberg’s data. More than 40 percent of district management had contributed to the campaign, while participation dropped to 10.8 percent and 4.8 percent for certificated and classified staff, respectively.

SMMEF made sure to have a presence at back-to-school nights and early PTA meetings across the district, Greenberg said. The foundation also penned joint request letters with PTA officials at all but two sites.

Meanwhile, a new pamphlet entitled “Are You In?” explains the partnership between the district, the PTAs and the foundation.

SMMEF is now gearing up for several future events. Pledge week is scheduled to begin Sept. 28, and proceeds from an Oct. 18 fashion show at Santa Monica Place will support the foundation, Greenberg said.

jeff@www.smdp.com

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