The Cambrian

Organization that has raised $700,000 for Coast Unified School District disbands

Coast Unified School District has announced household income eligibility requirements for free or reduced-price meals. The guidelines are effective through June 30.
Coast Unified School District has announced household income eligibility requirements for free or reduced-price meals. The guidelines are effective through June 30.

Shoppers expecting to order their 2018 Christmas tree or holiday wreath from the Cambria Education Foundation (CEF) this year got a sudden, sad surprise: The foundation is no longer active and is in the process of transitioning its funds and functions to the Cambria Community Council.

The foundation has ceased operations after 15 years of raising a total of nearly $700,000 and providing it to Coast Unified School District teachers and classes for training, field trips and special projects, Suzanne Kennedy said Monday, Dec. 3.

She’s been on the community council board for about 18 years, is the current secretary and, until CEF ceased, she was serving on the foundation board, as well. So, the fiscal-and-mission transition from one grant-giving group to another seemed logical.

Kennedy and the foundation’s website at say that all the 2018-2019 CEF grants have been awarded, with a few extensions to get the programs/teachers through to November. That’s when the community council gives its grants (CEF’s grants were historically awarded in July).

The website states, “In an effort to streamline the grant process and provide the most efficient use of volunteers, the education grants will now run through the Council. CEF will transfer all current funds to the Council in support of education-related requests.”

Kennedy said that after CEF completes the state process for closing the foundation, any remaining funds will transfer to the council’s special account for education.

What happened?

It takes lots of volunteers to staff nonprofits, serve on the boards and run fundraising events. These days it seems that fewer people are signing up to help with the work of many charities, service groups and other organizations.

That was the case with the foundation, Kennedy said, which competes for parental-and-family free time with various other school-related groups, such as the PTA, Cambria Youth Athletic Association and high-school Bronco Boosters Club, “all of which are having their own problems getting volunteers.”

Previous CEF board president/secretary Erin Martin also joined the community council board, Kennedy said. “We’re helping to facilitate grants to the school district.”

People can still donate in favor of education, but now those gifts go to a different organization, she said. “I feel like anybody who supported CEF’s mission has the opportunity now to continue to do so by sending a check to the council and earmarking it for education, or the San Francisco trip, or Yosemite trip … or whatever it is they want to support.”

The community council has provided more than $1 million in grants for supplemental funding for local nonprofits and charities with since 1996, and also provides seniors and the disabled with free rides on the Cambria Community Bus.

To donate by credit card or Paypal, or for details about the councilgo to Send donations to the council, P.O. Box 486, Cambria, 93428.

While the demise of the foundation makes Kennedy sad, she said, “it had a good run.”

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