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Manhattan Wine Auction Raises $1.3 Million for Manhattan Beach Schools

Jun 13, 2023 07:43PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

The 2023 Manhattan Wine Auction - Photo via MBEF

The sold-out Manhattan Wine Auction, the largest annual "party with a purpose" in the South Bay, drew more than 2,200 attendees and raised $1.3 million for the Manhattan Beach public schools on Saturday. 

The Manhattan Wine Auction raises funds for the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation and its Endowment Fund through ticket sales and live and silent auction items. The wine auction typically brings in seven figures.

“The longstanding traditions that span nearly three decades are what bring guests back year after year," said MBEF Executive Director Hilary Mahan. "We are so fortunate to live in a community with such an incredible outpouring of support, not only from our parents, but from the entire community.”

At the event, the Manhattan Country Club, which serves as host each year, was entirely transformed with more than 50 restaurants and 80 wineries, breweries and distilleries circling the perimeter of the club in the Reserve Room and Vineyard Courts.

(Wine pouring in the Reserve Room. Photo via MBEF.)

A paddle raise dedicated to growing the foundation of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) in MBUSD school surpassed its goal, raising more than $300,000, and eclipsing last year's paddle raise of $225,000. Chevron gave $100,000 to the paddle raise, out of a total $400,000 gift. (Chevron's robot dog Spot was on hand for the festivities.)

(Spot the robot dog heads up on stage to meet Chevron's Frederick Walker. Photo via MBEF.)

At this year's event, MBEF recognized G. Bradford Jones and Joan Hood Jones as co-recipients of the 2023 Legacy Award for their roles in the organization’s success and growth over the years and for their philanthropic contributions. Over more than three decades, they have served in numerous capacities for MBEF, the MBEF Endowment, the PTAs, and in community and civic life. During Brad’s tenure, the MBEF Endowment was started with a $10,000 investment, and has now reached $23 million and dispersed over $6 million to the schools.

Rich Weiss and Roger Spencer, longtime friends of MBEF, presented the award to the Joneses.
"There are no two individuals who independently and jointly have been so instrumental in our organization’s success and growth over more than three decades," said Weiss. "Their philanthropic contributions, coupled with their generosity of time and talent, knows no bounds.”

(MBEF Endowment Pres. Roger Spencer, Legacy Award Honoree G. Bradford Jones, Chief Investment Officer of MBEF Endowment Rich Weiss, Legacy Award Honoree Joan Hood Jones, MBEF Executive Director Hilary Mahan, and Event Chair Jake Dax. Photo via MBEF.)

This year’s Platinum Sponsors were Chevron and The Desolation Hotel, with Kirkland & Ellis
supporting the Wine Auction as the first-ever Reserve Room Presenting Sponsor. The Bay Club
(owner of the Manhattan Country Club) continues to be a key partner and provided significant
financial and logistical support for the event.

“Every year I am amazed at how many people within our community are willing to give of their time and resources to support our local Manhattan Beach public schools," said Event Chair Jake Dax. "That generosity is infectious and causes more and more people to give back each year.”

Event Featured Live, Silent Auctions; Dinner; Dancing

The silent and live auctions raised a combined $500,000 plus, and featured a wide array of packages, including vacation getaways, sports and entertainment items, beauty and health offerings, jewelry, art, culinary experiences, and one-of-a-kind opportunities. The auction also included more than 750 bottles of wine donated by members of the community and wineries from throughout California and beyond. Several of the vintners, chefs, and proprietors joined auctioneer Greg Quiroga on stage over the course of the evening, helping to bump some of the packages to record-setting heights.

The majority of funds raised from the event support the MBEF Endowment; however, each year, the Paddle Raise adds a significant funding element directed to current programming. This year’s effort raised more than $300,000 to support expanded funding of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) across all grade levels.

As paddles were being raised and guests were donating on their phones, MBEF President Alice Kuo noted that STEAM programs have a tremendous impact on student learning and career readiness in a rapidly changing world.

“By dedicating funding to expand STEM programming to STEAM, we can build our foundational programs with more comprehensive curriculum and enrichment opportunities that support wonder, critique, inquiry, and innovation,” said Kuo. 

Following the live auction, staff members set up a dance floor and crowds danced away to the Uptown Live Band. 

“Fundraising is all about trying to instill joy in giving back,” said Mahan after the event, “and there is no better example than the Manhattan Wine Auction. We are building community and supporting a noble cause at the same time. I am overwhelmed each year by the excitement the Wine Auction brings – from the volunteers, to the restaurants, wineries and other beverage partners, to the donors and the guests who set their alarms on May 1st to buy tickets – these are the people that make the Manhattan Wine Auction the iconic fundraising event that it is.”

MBEF Has Contributed More than $100 Million

The Manhattan Beach Education Foundation - celebrating its 40th anniversary this year -  is a community-driven fundraising organization that supplements state funding for programs that promote innovation and academic excellence in the public schools of Manhattan Beach. It was founded in 1983 to provide a means for parents to invest in public education for their children. That need has grown from a few thousand dollars a year at the start to a multi-million dollar commitment that helps to maintain rigorous academics and educational opportunities that would otherwise not be possible. In the 2022/23 school year, MBEF funded over $6.1 million to MBUSD.

Proceeds from the Manhattan Wine Auction benefit the MBEF Endowment Fund, which provides MBEF with a continuing and sustainable funding source, helping to make up for the instability of public school funding at the state level. The MBEF Endowment Fund's annual contribution to MBEF’s programs in the 2023-24 school year will exceed $1.1 million, accounting for 19% of MBEF’s overall grant to the district.

Over its 40-year history, MBEF has donated more than $100 million to the Manhattan Beach Unified School District.

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