FBEF Celebrates 20 Years
In January the Board of Trustees of the Freehold Borough Educational Foundation celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a reception in the brand new Media Center at Freehold Intermediate School.
Nearly 100 members of the community, including teachers, former board members, elected officials, area organization members, current and former students, and administrators gathered to recognize the amazing achievements of our small, but effective, all-volunteer organization have accomplished during the past two decades.
FBEF came about as a recommendation from the District’s strategic planning committee back in the late 1990s. In March of 1999, with the legal assistance of Ron Reich and then board Chairperson Lynn Reich, along with other civic-minded individuals, FBEF was incorporated in the State of New Jersey, and applied for and received federal IRS tax-exempt status as a nonprofit entity, separate and distinct from the school district.
In those early years, given the limited fundraising base of Freehold Borough, we struggled to raise significant dollars. But as time passed, we cultivated a loyal donor base of individuals who believe that every child deserves a quality public education.
Back then, when we really started fundraising in earnest, our annual budget was less than $20,000. But we made every dollar count. This year we have more than $100,000 in the bank to enhance education for the 1,700 students in Freehold Borough public schools. We do this by facilitating student development, encouraging excellence through creative learning and teaching, and, promoting partnerships between the school and our community. And, more than 90% of every dollar raised goes directly to students and programming.
Freehold Borough Educational Foundation is now an award-winning local education foundation. Since 2001, we have raised and donated nearly $440,000 to underwrite grants, programs, resources, and activities for the students of the Freehold Borough Schools.
The heart and soul of our school district, and those who do the majority of the work conducted by the Foundation, are the teachers who apply for Foundation grants. Perhaps the most inspiring, and yet the most overlooked aspect about the mini-grants process, is that it underscores a critical factor in the education of our children. By taking the time to conceptualize an innovative project or program and then sitting down to write a grant request, our teachers show they are truly concerned that the children in our school district have extra opportunities for educational advancement.
The event also gave us the opportunity to recognize several individuals crucial to our ongoing success including:
- Dr. Rocco Tomazic, Superintendent, a true champion, willing partner, contributor, and donor cultivator;
- Barry Tobias, a generous financial supporter, mentor, volunteer, and “idea man” behind several of our programs;
- Margaret Lam and David Yen, scions in the regional Chinese-American heritage and cultural community, and supporters of the district’s ping pong program, and major donors to FBEF;
- Jack Malysa, our incredible volunteer bike mechanic and bike instructor for the 4th grade bicycle education program; and,
- Tammy Ciok, our “inside advantage,” as a member of the administrative staff for the Board of Education, voluntarily monitors the grant proposal process, oversees the end-of-year and holiday season S.T.A.R.S. recognition program, handles correspondence, checks, and mailings.
The evening ended with the presentation of a special gift from FBEF to the school district: A Lifesize Icon 600 t dual display system! AKA a video-conferencing system that allows you to display an in-classroom presentation while sharing the other display for the active video participant feed. Our students will be able to communicate in real time with students in other countries and time zones, take virtual field trips to places like NASA, connect with experts, and allow students to travel the world without leaving Freehold.
Perhaps the most gratifying thing about FBEF’s 20th anniversary celebration was that each of the individuals in attendance played a role in our success. Whether as a current or former board member, volunteer, donor, teacher, administrator, board of education member, music student, elected official, member of a service or community group – they each helped us to grow as an organization. Equally as important, their contributions and input, whether it be time, money, resources, recommendations, praise, advice, or advocacy – not only aided the organization, but truly made a positive difference in the lives of so many students in our humble community.
And the most heartwarming thing is, our students are truly appreciative of everything they receive from the Foundation, and they aren’t afraid to express it and pay it forward.