Nourish Every Mind, the Issaquah Schools Foundation's (ISF) annual fundraiser, broke records yesterday with 1,000 people in attendance and a final fundraising tally of $650,000, making it the organization's most successful fundraiser to date, said Lynn Juniel, the foundation's development manager.
Robin Callahan, the organization's executive director, said she credits the community's commitment to education for the strong results.
"We just feel like there's a real momentum around investing in education," within the district, and not just by parents with children in school, Callahan said. She said the community's support of education is especially critical with continued shortfalls in state funding in the district.
"Private investment is the key to solving short-term funding inequities," she said.
Sponsors underwrote the costs for the luncheon, meaning all of the $150 a seat donations will go to pay for programs that the foundation funds at Issaquah Schools.
Those programs include a multitude of educational supports and innovative programming, such as thewhich the foundation launched last year as a pilot program at Issaquah High School in coordination with Kevin Wang of Microsoft. The program has been successful and next year will be expanded to all four high schools in the school district (this year it's offered at Skyline, Issaquah, and Liberty high schools, and next year Tiger Mountain Community High School will be added).
In addition, that program will expand to next year to seven additional states, Wang said, and will serve 1,800 students.
This year, students in the Issaquah School District's program, which pairs technology professionals with teachers to offer basic programming classes as well as AP computer science, made up 20 percent of all students taking the AP computer science test in Washington state, Wang said.
One of those students, Liberty High school senior Quinn Bracelen, said the TEALS program opened his eyes to the possibilities. Bracelen just took the AP computer science test, and plans to pursue a double major in physics and computer science at the University of Washington next year.
"This definitely widens his opportunity, and we're here to offer kids opportunities," Wang said.
Both Microsoft and Swedish Medical Center were honored at the luncheon with corporate Golden Apple Awards, in acknowledgment of the programs they help provide to Issaquah Schools.
The Issaquah Schools Foundation has its sight set this year on providing "leveled book rooms" onevery elementary campus in the district, which will be geared to helping the district meet the goal of having each student reading at grade level by third grade.
Last year, funds from the Nourish Every Mind benefit funded about half of the district's elementary school science curriculum adoption.