In 1979, in response to educational budget conditions not unlike those faced today, a group of concerned parents and community leaders formed the South Pasadena Educational Foundation (SPEF). Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) charity in 1980, SPEF was designated by the South Pasadena Unified School District (SPUSD) as the official private fund-raising organization for the support of the district’s educational programs.
Since its inception, SPEF has provided much-needed support to South Pasadena students in all educational areas including academics, books and technology, libraries service and support, visual and performing arts, foreign languages, science, character education, critical thinking, career center, staff development, counseling, and athletics. Donations to SPEF have always supported all five of South Pasadena’s public schools:
Arroyo Vista, Marengo, Monterey Hills, South Pasadena Middle School, and South Pasadena High School.
Over the past three decades, SPEF has raised over 11 million dollars to restore and enrich educational programs our school district could not fund alone. SPEF raises funds through generous donations as well as by administering for-fee summer school and after school programs that provide enhanced learning experiences to local students. SPUSD schools are the cornerstone of our community and the number one reason families move to South Pasadena.
South Pasadena Educational Foundation values and protects the privacy of its donors. Donor contact information is only used to support the mission of SPEF and South Pasadena Unified School District. Your information is never sold nor made available for commercial purposes. Requests for anonymity are honored.
With the last summer school classes ending July 25, the South Pasadena Educational Foundation is close to wrapping up its work for another school year. As president of SPEF’s all-volunteer board, I thought it might be an opportune time to review what we do for the district’s five public schools, with the generous help of parents, businesses and other members of our community.
SPEF has been an active nonprofit organization for 36 years, raising money for our schools and providing enrichment programs to our students. Its 40-member board of directors is drawn from the community, mostly parents of South Pasadena students, and it has four employees working year round to help administer our programs and fundraising events.
We raise money for the schools through a variety of fairly well-known programs and events, one of which is the Fall Fund Drive — the source of all those SPEF signs that pop up on lawns across the city every year. Anyone who donates to SPEF during our Fall Fund Drive in October receives a sign to display for two weeks, which we install and remove. Coordinating the distribution of almost 1000 signs throughout the city is a fun yet complicated task. Vast teams of volunteers fan across the city and try to get it all done in three hours so that people have that “ah ha!” moment together.
We also throw a big fund-raising soiree called Parti Gras. You may have heard of it. This year we had over 850 attendees in a festival-like atmosphere at the Arroyo Seco Golf Course, where over 20 eateries had set up booths on a simulated Parisian square. The event was a huge success, thanks in no small measure to the City Council, which allowed us to use the golf course, and dozens of businesses and individuals throughout the community, whose in-kind donations kept our costs low.
Financially, SPEF is strong but also lean. We give everything we make to the school district in the form of grants and programs. Ninety cents of every dollar we take in is spent on programs serving the students — such as the aforementioned summer school classes for all grade levels — or given to the district to plug its budget gap. This year our financial gift will exceed $600,000. Separate from that gift, we are also helping fund a new engineering and computer science career “pathway” program for the middle and high schools, which puts those schools in an elite category of schools with such programs.
Thanks to the basic principles instilled by the founders and past SPEF board members, SPEF remains committed to being a volunteer-driven community-based organization that reflects our town’s special passion for quality public education. We have a few more youth camps to run this summer – a golf camp and the ever-popular A.C Green leadership development basketball camp – and then we’ll take a brief break before gearing up for another year hard work, fun and a little craziness, all for the sake of our students and teachers. We deeply appreciate the support we receive from all corners of our community, as we work together to make excellent public schools an enduring legacy in South Pasadena.—
SPEF Office: 626-441-5810 Ext. 1163