Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF)?

We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that exists solely to raise funds for all schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.

The Ed Foundation is a separate organization from the district, with our own Board of Directors and staff. Since 1982, the Ed Foundation has supported programs at every school in the District through annual donations, permanent endowed funds, special events, and other earned income.

What do SMMEF donations fund?

Annual donations to SMMEF fund arts education for all elementary students, instructional assistants and enrichment grants for each school. Most school use these grants for STEM education, additional arts programs, student wellness and/or professional development for teachers.

You can learn about all the programs funded by SMMEF donations on our Programs Overview page and see a complete list of programs funded at each school on our Programs by School page.

Why should I donate to the Ed Foundation?

Donating to the Ed Foundation is vitally important to ensure high-quality programs for all students in all Santa Monica and Malibu schools. In order to avoid programming inequities across the district, SMMEF is the fundraising organization that pays for staff and programs at all schools; PTAs cannot fund staff and programs. These programs change our students’ lives every day and make our local public schools strong. For more information about this district policy, see our Mission and History page.

Parent and SMMUSD staff donation participation is crucially important. Not only do your donations fund incredible programs for all our students, they show that our community supports our schools. SMMEF routinely requests donations from local businesses, corporations and foundations. They frequently ask about parent and staff participation. Corporate and major gift donors are more likely to invest when we have a high percentage of our school community donating.

Should I give to both SMMEF and the PTA at my school?

YES! We’re all in this together. Both PTA and the Ed Foundation are critical funding sources for local schools. PTAs raise funds for necessary “stuff” such as supplies, books and equipment at school sites, while your donations to SMMEF fund additional staff and programs at each school. Donating to both SMMEF and PTA keeps SMMUSD schools strong. Remember - SMMEF is the only organization that can fund staff and programs. If you value instructional assistants, arts programs, and important enrichment programs, please donate to SMMEF.

Who decides how donations are spent?

The SMMUSD Board of Education determines all programs funded by annual donations to SMMEF. The Superintendent makes recommendations to the Board of Education based on input from the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee (SAC), professional knowledge, and research-based best practices. SAC is a group of District stakeholders, including principals, teachers, staff, parents and community members.

The Superintendent’s Advisory Committee meets monthly to collaborate, provide school site input, and make recommendations on fundraising goals and strategies. Meetings facilitate enhanced communication of PTAs, SMMUSD Administration, principals, school staff and SMMEF to ensure successful ongoing funding for staff and programs.

The SAC is comprised of the following positions:

SAC meetings are open to the public. For more information, go to the SMMUSD website.

Who can help with fundraising?

Everyone! ALL parents, volunteers, booster groups, PTA leaders, school principals and teachers, district administrators, School Board members, local businesses…we need everyone working together to raise funds to ensure the continued excellence that characterizes our schools. For information about volunteering, see our Volunteer page.

How do SMMEF donations impact secondary schools?

Donations to SMMEF fund programs at all schools in the district. At secondary schools, annual donations to SMMEF provide funds for enrichment grants to each school. In addition, SMMEF endowments fund a variety of secondary school programs. Booster Clubs at the high schools are currently not part of centralized fundraising. They play a tremendously important role by targeting unmet needs locally at their school.

How is the work of SMMEF overseen?

SMMEF is a non-profit organization led by a Board of Directors made up of dedicated volunteers from our community with professional expertise in fundraising, finance, development, business and marketing. SMMEF employs a full-time Executive Director, Associate Director, Director of Major Gifts, Communications and Events Manager, and a Marketing and Communications Associate. SMMEF also employs a part-time Database Associate. You can learn more about staff members here. In addition, SMMEF’s financial statements are audited every year by an outside third party for accuracy and transparency.

How much should I give to SMMEF?

Our first goal is 100% participation. For SMMUSD parents, the recommended donation is $700 per child, but every donation, regardless of amount, is greatly appreciated and will impact our students.

This suggested donation is neither a minimum nor a maximum; we’re asking you to give what you can but to consider an amount that is significant to your family. Donations of $5,000 or more are eligible for Superintendent’s Circle benefits and donations of $2,500 or more are eligible for Leadership Circle benefits.

What are SMMEF’s endowments?

Our four endowments provide a reliable source of funding, year after year, ensuring consistent programming District-wide. Valued at over $7 million dollars, these endowments fund academic, arts and music programs at all schools. For more information, see our Endowments page.