Issaquah Schools Foundation luncheon sets record

May 3, 2011

By Laura Geggel

In spite of the recession, the Issaquah Schools Foundation has never had such a successful fundraiser.

At the 13th annual Nourish Every Mind Benefit Luncheon, the foundation raised the considerable sum of $593,000 April 28. Last year, the luncheon raised $410,000, and organizers had set a goal of $450,000 for 2011.

Still, more money is needed. The Issaquah School District has plans to buy a new elementary science curriculum, but doesn’t have the funds. The money it had earmarked for the curriculum was spent covering the $1.4 million the state retroactively took from its budget this year.

In light of the state’s cuts, the foundation has jumpstarted a campaign to raise $500,000 to buy the elementary science curriculum by June 30.

Thanks to the successful luncheon at the Issaquah Community Center, the foundation has raised $263,000 of the $500,000 needed.

“As public funding shrinks, we will need to do more,” foundation community representative Leigh Stokes said.

Grand Ridge Elementary School Teacher Maureen Bacon and her fifth-grade students Deon Lillo and Caroline O’Neill urged the audience to donate to the elementary school science curriculum.

All fifth-graders take a science standardized test, and the current fifth-grade class will be required to pass the state sophomore science test to graduate. The new curriculum will help future classes prepare for the tests and the scientific world.

Part of the new fifth-grade state standards requires that students understand application science. Lillo said a hands-on unit about force and motion from the new curriculum the district plans to purchase helped him grasp the concepts.

“To learn more about force and motion, we got to design, build and test our own roller coasters,” he said. “I loved it. It was so much fun, even though it took time and effort.”

More than 950 people attended the luncheon, many paying $150 per seat for the chicken and fruit salad lunch and a chance to place bids during the silent auction.

Throughout the luncheon, emceed by Sammamish City Councilman John Curley, students thanked the foundation for its support. Skyline High School senior M’Kayla Silva said that of the 11 schools she had attended since kindergarten, she had received the most support in the Issaquah School District.

At Skyline, she registered as one of the 230 students using the VOICE Mentor Program — a program paid for by the foundation — and began receiving personal tutoring from community volunteer Joy Abia.

“With Ms. Joy, my life started to change,” Silva said. “Over these last two years, she has become a huge asset for me in school, in my home life and just as a personal friend. She has inspired me to set goals and has shown me that goals are achievable.”

Now, Silva plans to be the first person in her family to attend college, and she has hopes to become a marine biologist.

Just as the foundation invested in this program, foundation Executive Director Robin Callahan asked that guests think of their pasts and open their wallets.

“The question is who invested in you and who are you going to invest in?” Callahan asked.

She recounted the story of a friend’s son who hadn’t known what he wanted to do after graduating from Issaquah High School. After participating in two programs funded in part by the foundation, the robotics club and the Microsoft-taught computer science Advanced Placement class, the student has decided to go to the DigiPen Institute of Technology, a videogame development and animation school in Redmond.

“Public education is not really free,” Callahan said. “There is a private investment needed.”

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

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One Response to “Issaquah Schools Foundation luncheon sets record”

  1. Supporters meet fundraising goal for science curriculum : The Issaquah Press – News, Sports, Classifieds and More in Issaquah, WA on June 14th, 2011 3:53 pm

    […] campaign began April 29, the day after the Issaquah Schools Foundation’s annual luncheon. At the luncheon, foundation community representative Leigh Stokes explained that the district had initially set […]

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