| by Janie Rosman |
For the past four years, Irvington Education Foundation (IEF) board member Rob Firpo-Cappiello has been one of the foundation’s biggest boosters – in the community and beyond.
IEF was formed in 1997 by several parents after a school play was cancelled due to a budget crunch, Firpo-Cappiello explained. “Parents got together to go above and beyond the school budget.” Since then, raising funds has been a goal that has grown exponentially over the years.
Last month’s IEF fundraising event “was a huge success,” he said of the “Back to the 80s Party.” More than 250 supporters turned out for dinner, a silent auction, dancing, a 1980’s cover band and a lip sync battle. At press, funds received had not been tallied.
“I was at the door greeting people and thanking them for their support, and everyone said it was the best fundraiser event of its kind,” he said. “We thank the team of volunteers who worked hard to make it successful.”
The not-for-profit 501©3 organization has raised more than $80,000 to fund enrichment programs, materials, class trips, and bringing in experts for seminars, he said. “It’s great that the teachers and administrators and students have ideas for programs.”
Firpo-Cappiello has been revamping IEF’s website and handles its communications and marketing efforts. “We used to have one big fundraiser each year, and now we have one in the fall and one in the spring,” he said.
When students were asked their ideas for future programs, Sunnyside Federal Savings & Loan stepped up and offered the district a contribution, which was matched by an anonymous donor, thereby creating IEF’s exciting newest venture – the Innovation Fund.
During the fund’s January 16 launch, students were given a “WHAT IF?” situation and asked to present their ideas to be considered for grants, introducing new opportunities to the school district and complementing its sponsored programs.
“The Irvington Education Foundation has been a great partner to the school district,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kristopher Harrison. “Over the years, it has funded a multitude of ideas generated by teachers in the district to enhance the education program in Irvington. I look forward to seeing what the students now propose. The future is in their hands!”
Money raised by the IEF is distributed as grants to fund education enrichment programs, encouraging parents and the community to participate. “It funds ideas that are too expensive even if the school budget was twice the amount it is,” he said. “It’s the icing on the cake. There’s always something that can be added.”
IEF is now in the midst of a pilot program in the high school and will vote on students’ ideas next week. Its board of directors, which includes Kristopher Harrison, reviews grant applications and proposals, submitting its funding recommendations to the Board of Education for approval.
“This is a unique opportunity for students to explore their passions and interests while being able to place a personal stamp on their learning experience and school community,” Harrison said. “Our objective was to empower students to enrich learning while exposing them to the application and proposal-writing process. We are very excited for our students to influence studies in our school community.”