RSF Education Foundation makes a powerful impact at R. Roger Rowe School

Students at R. Roger Rowe participate in a variety of enrichment opportunities.

As the new school year begins, the Rancho Santa Fe Education Foundation is already hard at work to ensure that students at R. Roger Rowe School receive an education that is extraordinary. Contributions to the foundation provide small class sizes, enrichment offerings and expert instruction in literacy, math, science, technology, physical education and the arts.

“The foundation gives us 10 percent of our budget, that’s a huge impact on what we can provide for students,” said Rancho Santa Fe School District Superintendent Donna Tripi. “Having foundation support, we’re able to provide everything we would want to give our students and more.”

This year the foundation’s goal is to raise $1 million and have 100 percent participation from school families.

They are gearing up for Red Envelope Day on Friday, Oct. 18 when they hope every family will make a contribution toward making a difference for every student at R. Roger Rowe. New this year, everyone who donates on or before Red Envelope Day will get a car magnet that announces them as a “Proud Supporter of the RSF Education Foundation.” The foundation’s corporate partners will also receive window clings.

“Our big thing this year is our One Ask policy,” said Hazel Bentinck, annual giving co-chair.

This year's car magnet for Foundation donors.

In previous years, Bentinck said parents could sometimes feel inundated, being asked for funds what felt like every week for things in their child’s classroom. This year the foundation is focused on asking once—the fair share contribution is $1,600 per child to reach their $1 million goal and funds will be allocated by the district for all classroom needs, activities and enrichment. They hope to receive the majority of funds by Red Envelope Day.

There are a variety of giving levels for parents, from a contributor (less than $500 per student) to an annual philanthropic commitment such as Cap and Gown, which is $2,500 and above per enrolled student, including an invitation to an exclusive recognition event. Scholar’s Circle, the multi-year philanthropic commitment, starts at $7,000 annually for five years, which provides revenue for the school’s long-term planning and includes a permanent inscription on the Scholars Circle Giving Tree on campus.

“It’s key that everyone participates at the level to which they feel comfortable,” said Kate Butler, communications chair.

The foundation is run entirely by volunteers, this year with help from a new part-time development director. They host 21 events a year plus four joint events with the district and Butler said in addition to fundraising, they want to build community and make people feel at home at the school. Before the school year even started they hosted newcomer pool parties and a kindergarten play date, matching up every newcomer family with a buddy family. On Sept. 28, they will host a Newcomers’ Night Out just for parents.

The foundation hosts four parent meetings a year with guest speakers on a variety of topics and also hosts staff appreciation lunches three times a year. They host events for the kids such as the Halloween Carnival, Mother-Son Bowling event and a Father-Daughter Dance.

“We’re always looking for volunteers at any level. The more people you can have included, the better,” Bentinck said. “We have so many people who are committed and working really hard for our school, to continue to make it a better place.”

Bentinck, who is on the board for her third year, said it is really powerful to see all of the extras that kids get at R. Roger Rowe with the foundation’s support: a wealth of activities, classes and options that allows each kid to explore their unique characteristics.

In addition to the “robust” offerings is the small class sizes—in kindergarten through eighth grade, Rowe classes are 20:1 and in most cases, under.

“One of the biggest benefits of having a foundation is having our classes so small, that is just so amazing for our students,” said teacher Jennifer Olson. “I know where each of my students are in their needs and their strengths. I get to actually make a connection with my kids and they know how much I care about them so that they’re willing to open up and take risks in the classroom. We’re able to dig deeper into the curriculum and hopefully teach them depth as opposed to breadth because there are so few in the classroom.”

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