Published November 16, 2004
Volume 12, Number 11

PSEE Supports Arts, Science Education in Pleasanton Schools

It’s been five years since the founding of the Pleasanton Schools Educational Enrichment Foundation (PSEE) and the group is well on its way to achieving its goals: providing art, science, and other enrichment programs for the benefit of students in the Pleasanton public schools.

This year, PSEE has designated $10,000 for programs ranging from the purchase of instruments to funding of science programs and clubs, as well as paying the salaries of a choir instructor for the Village Choir and a piano accompanist for Amador and Foothill high schools.

PSEE funds these programs with interest and other investment returns on its endowment, which currently totals $565,000. It’s a different model than many non-profits use in that the money that makes up the endowment is never spent but instead is used to generate the income which in turn funds the group’s programs.

“The problem with (basing your programs on) annual fundraising is that you just never know what you’re going to have from year to year, so you can’t start long-term programs,” explains Denise Watkins, one of the organization’s trustees.  “For example, an orchestra at the high school level requires a strings program at the elementary and middle schools so that these students can learn these instruments throughout their lives – strings have a particularly long learning curve – and in order to have students who have the capability at the high school level to even play in an orchestra. That is the kind of vision that we are trying to achieve.”

The specific programs supported by PSEE are determined by the group’s advisory board, which consists of representatives from every school in the district, the cultural arts community, and the district office. The advisory board and foundation trustees determine the funding levels for each program and then the money is given to the school district with explicit directions about how the money can be used.

“It’s not going to a general fund or to cover district overhead costs,” adds Watkins. “It’s going to fund specific salaries and programs, which I think our donors like because they see the return on investment. PSEE is also an all-volunteer organization and therefore our overhead is extraordinarily low.”

PSEE’s immediate goal is to reach a total endowment of $1 million, with a long-term goal of $10 million “so that we can establish and maintain a full arts and science program K-12 as a perpetual endowment for the Pleasanton Unified School District,” Watkins says.

Companies or individuals interested in learning more about PSEE are welcome to contact the organization at (925) 485-1964. For additional information on the group’s activities, access their web site at www.psee.org.  


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