By Maddy Vitale
A Smart Board, pottery wheels, even desk cycles, are just some of the items the Ocean City Education Foundation supplied through grants for teachers in district schools in recent years.
“We really want to cover all bases with the kids,” said Tricia Ciliberto, president of the independent foundation. “We give them some good stuff. Every time I go into the school for a meeting, I am just impressed. I am proud to be in an organization in which I could help in any way possible.”
Every year the education foundation holds two fundraisers to be able to award grants to the district, one in December and the other in March.
This year’s event, Benefit by the Beach, will be held from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, March 2, at the historic Flanders hotel, 719 E. 11th Street in Ocean City. Tickets are $45. For more information visit the http://ocnjef.com/
Last April, $10,000 in grants were awarded to teachers during a ceremony at the Board of Education office. Ciliberto said she hopes the foundation raises even more money this year through fundraising to present even more awards to teachers this spring.
Although the grants are “mini-grants,” the foundation members want to help in any way they can, Ciliberto, of Upper Township, said.
“It is easy to want to help kids. We all know how the school budgets are. There are things that can enhance the education that can’t fit into a budget,” Ciliberto said. “We try to help that. We have a fantastic district and we want to do anything we can to make it even better.”
The foundation, which began 10 years ago, is made up of 15 people including teachers, administrators, parents, business owners, and residents in the school district. It was formed to enhance and expand enrichment opportunities for all students in the Ocean City School District and the community.
“Some people are members who had children in the schools. Others don’t, but know it is important to invest in the future of the town and the children are the future,” she said.
While funds are raised for other needs in the community, the main goal of the organization is to provide grants to teachers, she said.
In January a letter goes out to all teachers in the district, inviting them to submit grant requests. The requests due back a couple of weeks ago, are being reviewed by a grant committee, made up of members of the foundation.
Some grants, ranging from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple thousand dollars, awarded last year are as follows;
Sign Language program materials, mannequins for a fashion marketing course, headphones for iPads, camera equipment and a computer coding kit were some items awarded through grant funds.
“The amount in grants we can give out is contingent upon how much is raised through our fundraisers,” Ciliberto said. “Everything we raise is given back to the school. “We try to raise money for different things.”
In addition to grants for the classroom work, after Hurricane Sandy, the foundation raised money to pay for school lunches for children displaced by the storm.
“If there is a need in the community, we want to help in any way we can,” Ciliberto said.
Last spring the foundation raised funds to purchase bike reflectors for children in the community. They also sponsor the after-prom events.
“Even if they don’t go to our school, they are still our kids,” Ciliberto said. “We really care about the kids inside and outside of the school.”