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MBEF Celebrates 40th Anniversary; Unveils Community Recognition Mural

May 07, 2023 09:06AM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Artist Betsy K. Schultz triumphantly holds the scissors after cutting the ribbon in front of the new MBEF community recognition mural in the Metlox Plaza in Manhattan Beach.

In front of a crowd of past and present civic and educational leaders and families, the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation formally unveiled its "Seeds of Knowledge" community recognition project on Saturday.

MBEF, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, commissioned the mural as a tribute to the community supporters who have donated $100 million to the education foundation over the past 40 years.

The art installation - located just west of Shade Hotel in Metlox Plaza - was created by artist Betsy K. Schulz to acknowledge the educators, parents, students, volunteers, and donors who have played a part in the success of MBEF and the Manhattan Beach schools, according to MBEF. The mural depicts a child discovering the world: the layers of earth beneath her, the environment around her, and the future represented in the stars.

Over its 40 years, MBEF has grown into a multi-million-dollar operational commitment to the Manhattan Beach Unified School District to maintain reasonable class sizes, rigorous academics, and a breadth of educational experiences from kindergarten through high school. For 2022/23 alone, MBEF gave a total of $6.1 million in grants to MBUSD.

In attendance at Saturday's event were past and present leaders of MBEF, City Council and MBUSD school board members, PTA presidents, community leaders, and families. 

Participants enjoyed music from Mira Costa High School jazz musicians and choir members; partook in refreshments from Manhattan Bread and Bagel and Handel's Ice Cream, and were entertained by antics from the Manhattan Beach school mascots. 

(MBUSD school mascots. Photo credit: Joe Franklin)

"MBEF is admired by fellow public education foundations throughout the state and even the country," Hilary Mahan, executive director of MBEF, told the crowd. "We frequently receive inquiries from across the country asking us, How do we accomplish what we do? How do we raise the amount of money we do every year? And how do we continue to earn that investment and that support from our community year after year? The answer is 'Because of all of you.'"

(MBEF Executive Director speaks to the crowd at Metlox Plaza on Saturday morning.)

"The Seeds of Knowledge art installation embodies everything that  MBEF and MBUSD are about, and it's driven by you, by our community," added MBUSD Superintendent John Bowes. "It reminds us of why we're here: for our students, and to grow our programs."

MBEF Earns City, Local, State Commendations

Also on hand to congratulate MBEF were California State Senator Ben Allen and a representative from the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell.

Allen called MBEF "the absolute gold standard when it comes to fundraising" among education foundations.

"Great schools don't just happen on their own," said Allen. "If we just left it to the federal government and the state, we know that's taking a real risk."

(State Sen. Ben Allen presents a joint Senate-Assembly resolution to MBEF Executive Director Hilary Mahan and MBEF Executive Board President Alice Kuo.)

Manhattan Beach Mayor Richard Montgomery congratulated MBEF and also emphasized the city's role in and strong commitment toward support of its schools. 

"The City Council unanimously supported this donor wall and dedicated this public space for it. This symbolizes our community’s dedication to enriching education in Manhattan Beach," said Montgomery. "The city of Manhattan Beach is committed to investing in the future of our city through partnerships with the school district and MBEF."

(Manhattan Beach Mayor Richard Montgomery speaks while City Council members look on.)

Montgomery reminded the crowd that in 2008/09, during the depths of the recession, the city invested $1.3 million in the school district.

Additionally, the city used to pay only a symbolic $1 per year for shared use of the school district's fields, pools, and tennis courts, noted Montgomery, until the district and the city created a Joint Use Agreement in 2012 (renewed in 2018). The city has dedicated $11 million to the schools in the past five years, he said.

Responding in part to Montgomery's comments about the role of the city, Allen noted: "It's up to all of us to work together to try to grow the pie and make sure we continue to raise the base up in Sacramento. But at the same time it's also important for us to continue to strengthen these partnerships with the local community, both through the fundraising work that the education foundation does, but also the partnerships with the city - and I'm so happy that that culture has begun to grow, and people are all rowing in the same direction."

The Manhattan Wine Auction, the largest fundraiser of the year benefiting the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation, is coming up on June 10. The event has sold out, but there is a waitlist for tickets.

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