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Healdsburg Education Foundation gets largest donation in its history

$119,000 contribution from Tony Crabb and Barbara Grasseschi will aid a variety of community education projects.

With a recent major gift of $89,000 plus a pledge of $30,000 in May,  Tony Crabb and Barbara Grasseschi have just made the largest single donation to support students through the in the organization's history.

“We have been supporting HEF for the nearly 10 years since we moved to Healdsburg because we believe that a great community, like Healdsburg, deserves and needs great public schools," said Crabb in an announcement Tuesday.

"The public schools are the bedrock of any truly great community, making them desirable places to live and raise a family," Crabb said. "They provide the rational for stable home values, and for a well-educated and a well-rounded community."

In keeping with the Crabb Grasseschi Family Foundation’s funding priorities,  the money will be used to support the science and technology related classes of the Healdsburg contribute to the HEF Endowment Fund, support the Healdsburg High School Cisco Academy and the (CASA), and provide operating support for the Healdsburg Education Foundation.

"The partnership between HEF and HUSD has really blossomed over the last couple of years with some truly exciting programs for our kids, and they deserve our, and the community’s ongoing support,” Crabb said.

With school programs in danger of being cut all over the state due to budget shortfalls, the contribution from Crabb and Grasseschi couldn't come at a better time, said Gina Fontana, HEF President.

“Tony and Barbara made this donation during an unprecedented year of public school budget cuts," Fontana said.  "They are smart donors who direct their investment in the public schools where it makes a difference to those students that need it the most.”

Crabb and Grasseschi said they are particularly excited that a part of their gift, $50,000, is helping to support the science and technology-based classes in the Healdsburg Unified School District’s innovative elementary school Enrichment Program.

The Enrichment Program provides all kindergarten through fifth grade students with in-class instruction in key subjects that have been drastically reduced by most school districts due to funding reductions.

The Enrichment Program is composed of 11 different classes taught by certified instructors, several of which are science and technology based, including: garden/nutrition, computers, science exploration, and Lego-Robotics.

“Over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education
that goes beyond a high school degree—a significant shift," Grasseschi said. "Most of those jobs will require skills in science, technology, engineering and math.

"Using enrichment programs to spark children’s natural curiosity at the earliest possible level gives them a head start in higher education regardless of their
eventual career path,” Grasseschi added.

Approximately $15,000 of the Crabb Grasseschi Family donation is directed to the HEF Endowment Fund. The HEF Endowment is in the growth stage with the goal of eventually directing income from the fund to provide on-going support for our schools in the areas where it is needed most.

“With the current budget constraints that our state is under, and the pressure that will be on our schools going forward, we believe that it is essential that we encourage the local community to step forward to provide as much support to our schools through ongoing private funding from the community -- and HEF is the essential organization that can provide the correct structure to do that," Crabb said. "The endowment is one of the best ways to provide a guaranteed source of funding well into the future.”

Approximately $15,000 of the Crabb Grasseschi Family donation is directed to the HEF Endowment Fund. The HEF Endowment is in the growth stage with the goal of eventually directing income from the fund to provide on-going support for our schools in the areas where it is needed most.

 HHS's CASA program will receive $10,000 of this donation to fund much needed building supplies for next year’s program, which is expanding from one class to two in 2011/2012 school year. 

“Vocational programs are not just for those who are not planning on pursuing a four-year degree," Crabb said. "Vocational education provides a practical linkage between the classroom and the work-world that is valuable for all students.

"In addition, classes like CASA can enable students to gain the skills necessary to obtaining good-paying jobs right out of high school,” he said.

s Cisco Academy and Instructional Technology Program will also benefit from $15,000 from this gift. In the Cisco Academy, students learn networking theory, practical network skills, and prepare for both Cisco Networking Administrator exams and entry level IT careers.

Crabb and Grasseschi have been supporters of the program since its inception, funding the hardware for the program. As former Cisco employees, they
fully appreciate the importance of technical education - as understanding technology from the inside out truly prepares our students for the changing jobs of the future.

“We funded the Cisco Academy three years ago, as we had seen how the program provided a graduated technical education in computer and network technology that could provide a career pathway for students that would provide a well paying job right out of high school, with industry recognized certification, or form the basis for further technical education at a two or four-year  college," Crabb said.

"The program is now well established, but technology is changing at such a rapid pace these days that ongoing funding is always needed to keep abreast of current trends,” Crabb added.

The pledged donation of $30,000 represents a commitment to making sure HEF has the staff and operational support needed to continue its mission of providing a bridge between the generous Healdsburg community and our local public schools and directing resources where they have the most benefit for our students who are Healdsburg's future, Crabb said.

“We chose to make a significant contribution to HEF’s operational funding because we firmly believe it is the best and easiest way to double or triple the impact of each dollar we contribute," Crabb said. "Since we began supporting HEF’s operational budget, HEF’s annual commitment to the schools has grown from approximately $100,000 per year and funding several small programs to over $500,000 per year and funding several K-12 programs, a 400 percent increase.

"That same level of funding put into a single program would have reached a few classrooms full of students," he said. "Instead, our contribution to HEF’s overall operational budget has enabled the organization to impact all 2000-plus students in the Healdsburg Unified School District.”

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