DSCN0241Somers Education Foundation Receives $100,000 Donation to Its Endowment

On October 28th, Helen and S. Prestley Blake (co-founder of Friendly’s Ice Cream Corporation) gave the Somers Education Foundation endowment a gift of $100,000 in a ceremony attended by foundation president Dr. Paul Salva, foundation vice-president John Mailhot, and Probate Judge Timothy Keeney. “This is a remarkably generous gift and SEF will create a separate named fund in the Blakes’ honor,” said Dr. Salva. Mr. Blake said, “I want Somers to know something about us. I am impressed by what the foundation has accomplished and very impressed by its structure.” Mrs. Blake said, “SEF has truly contributed to improving education in Somers and I am very pleased that all board members work pro bono.”

Paul Salva and Louis Bachetti created SEF 10 years ago as a sustaining endowment for the Somers Public School system. In that time, it has given the school system $222,000 in grants and awards and has built an endowment of $310,000, before the Blakes’ gift. On September 30th, the Connecticut Consortium of Education Foundations presented its Foundation Celebration Award to SEF. According to Dr. Salva, “the past 30 days have been an amazing time for SEF – the culmination of a great deal of hard work and dedication on the part of our board and its supporters who really are the entire town. The Blakes’ donation puts SEF on a different level and will allow our board the chance to fund big projects faster.”

Pictured above, from left-to-right: John Mailhot, Vice President of SEF; Helen Blake; Paul Salva, President of SEF; and S. Prestley Blake.

Submitted by Paul Salva, December 2014

grouppicBridgeport Public Education Fund Honors Educators

The annual Inspiration Awards event that the Bridgeport Public Education Fund and Fairfield County’s Community Foundation (FCCF) co-sponsor was held at the Bridgeport Holiday Inn on May 7th. Seven Outstanding Teachers from the Bridgeport Public Schools were honored with a Tiffany apple and a $1,000 certificate for professional development. Two teachers received the Beard Excellence in Teaching Award from FCCF and will receive $25,000 over the next four years. Also, the George Bellinger Leadership Award was presented to Dyrene Meekins, Principal of Wilbur Cross School, and the Elizabeth M. Pfriem Civic Award was presented to Claire Gold, who has been the lead force behind the creation of the three regional magnet schools in Bridgeport.

Back row, left to right: Outstanding teachers Kate Preston, Danielle Marcellino, Lynora Lichvar, Sharon Devaux, Jessica Lockavitch, Deanna Rutherford, & Maureen Niestemski. Front Row, left to right: Juanita James, CEO of FCCF; Shaun Mitchell, Beard recipient; Claire Gold, Pfriem recipient; Elizabeth Capasso, Beard recipient; and Barbara Bellinger, Inspiration Event chairperson.

Submitted by Marge Hiller, August 2014

woodstockWoodstock Education Foundation’s Graveyard Grind – A Cycling Event

Annually, bicyclists from all over the Quiet Corner convene upon the charming hamlet of Woodstock, CT, to participate in the Graveyard Grind, an annual bike event sponsored by the Woodstock Education Foundation (WEF).

After two years of hosting the Graveyard Grind, word is getting out as evidenced by the number of riders who attend from nearby Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The event raises funds to support WEF’s mission. Riders choose between a half-century ride (31 miles) and a metric century ride (62 miles). The courses are chosen based on the topography and appropriate approval from the local towns of Pomfret, Thompson, Eastford, Ashford, Putnam, and Woodstock.

A delighted rider blogged enthusiastically about the Grind, saying that “Within 10 miles of the start you were able to see historic cemeteries, white spired churches, colonial meeting houses, cows, horses, chickens, and lots of woodland critters. While there may have been hills, the views were very much worth the climbing. The highlight of the second half was the Thompson Dam and the extremely steep climb back into Woodstock from Pomfret.”

The Graveyard Grind earned its name from the rich regional history of the area. Locally, many historically significant gravesites not only serve as points of interest, but also as valuable markers for cyclists. Of course, the Quiet Corner of CT has many hills so the Graveyard Grind seems an apt name.

WEF acknowledges the advice and contributions of the owner of Danielson Adventure Sports, who unselfishly has advised us through planning the yearly event. The Grind could not happen without the full commitment of the board and the many volunteers from our town and surrounding communities, who pitch in to mark the routes, provide and man rest stops supplied with water and snacks, and serve a hearty meal for the riders at the conclusion of the event.

WEF has modified the Graveyard Grind to increase safety, improve marketing, and grow revenue, which comes from registration fees and local company sponsorship. All companies are recognized on our Web site, Facebook page, and on a professionally designed T-shirt.

Running the Grind is labor intensive, including arranging for the well-prepared meal at the finish line. We have experimented with sides of roast beef cooked barbeque style to preparing sandwiches with the guidance of a certified chef. The foundation is also investigating a closed course for young children for the future.

Submitted by Norma Jean Loftus, September 2013

south_smSouthington Education Foundation Embarking on New STEM-Focused Initiative

In the 2013/2014 school year, the Southington Education Foundation will bring an increased awareness and recognition to the importance of STEM-based experiential learning within the school district. Integrating the disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics into cross-curriculum studies is essential for our 21st-century students. SEF is working with the schools to instill a five-prong approach to STEM enrichment:

• Support and enhance programming already underway in and outside of the district’s classrooms, such as SEF’s recent financial recognition of the Southington Cyber Knights, the nationally recognized SHS Robotics Team

• Continue funding a district-wide program that sends all fourth-graders to Camp Sloper twice during the academic year for a day of project-based learning

• Launch a Virtual STEM University for Southington’s educators

• Begin a STEM-based scholarship program for graduating seniors

• Provide STEM-designated grant-funding for educators to facilitate STEM enrichment within their daily lesson plans

From an elementary science lab to an outdoor teaching garden, an alternate energy sources initiative, African drums, and a classroom planetarium, the Southington Education Foundation (SEF) has fulfilled the wish lists of more than 80 educators to the learning delight of students in every school in the community. Since its inception in 2009, SEF has funded nearly $100,000 in grants to promote and ensure innovative and creative learning within the Southington Public School system.

Submitted by Dawn Miceli, August 2013

bethelBethel Education Foundation’s Family Summer Kick-Off Raises over $8,000

It was the last day of school; the sun was out; and spirits were high. Over 700 children, parents, community members, school staff, and administrators came out for Bethel Education Foundation’s (BEF) 3rd Annual “Family Summer Kick-off.”  This event raised over $8,000 through ticket sales, food sales, sponsorships, and vendor tables.

The Bethel High School football field was a “field of dreams” as guests were treated to featured inflatables, a dunk tank, demonstrations, crafts, dancing, and many other activities. Vendors were able to promote their businesses by making a small donation to the BEF and providing an activity for the children or sponsoring an inflatable or treat station.

Tickets to the event were sold in advance and at the door. The admission fee included a free popcorn, sno-cone, and cotton candy for all children, as well as unlimited use of the inflatables and access to vendor activities. Parents were kept busy participating in dance lessons, product demonstrations, and simply enjoying the community spirit. Families were happy to stay all four hours of the event since plenty of food and drinks were available for sale. The snack shed was hopping. The menu included pulled pork sandwiches, pizza, ice cream, and many other culinary treats.

While this event is not a big moneymaker compared to our auction dinner/gala, it is a great community-building event, a tremendous marketing tool for the Foundation, and, of course, a wonderful way for families to celebrate the last day of school.

Submitted by Filomena Weiner, August 2013


ACES Education Foundation Funds Dance Workshops

The ACES Education Foundation awarded a grant for $4,750 to the ACES Educational Center for the Arts (ECA) for a series of five dance workshops. Adele Meyers and her company members conducted these master classes for ECA dance students. A performance showcasing the dance repertory piece created in the workshops followed.

Submitted by Carolyn McNally, August 2013

avon_smAvon Education Foundation Awards Mini-Grant to Roaring Brook School for Playground Equipment

The Avon Education Foundation happily awarded the 2013 Hyatt Family Grant to the Roaring Brook School to purchase two Spinner Bowls for their playground. Children can sit in and pump their legs to spin and move all around this hollow, bowl-like piece of playground equipment. It uses centrifugal force and weight distribution to provide a safe and fun ride and is also a great tool for teaching science.

Submitted by Beth Zweibel, August 2013