Selling out in just one hour, more than 250 people attended the Hoboken Public Education Foundation’s Annual gala, which raised more than $225,000 this month.
One hundred percent of the gala’s proceeds will fund a range of programs and improvements across the district in the next school year.
The nonprofit organization, run by volunteer parents under the leadership of co-founder and President Shirael Pollack, has raised more than $725,000 since its inception in August 2015.
“This has been our biggest year yet, and we have just been so thrilled by the community support, the support of the elected officials there, and the overall energy of those who came,” Pollack said, noting that it’s more important than ever to raise money for the public school district.
“As Hoboken public school enrollment is growing, and state funding is shrinking, it is imperative that we continue to provide for value-added programs at our local schools,” Pollack said.
The foundation will work with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christine Johnson to identify opportunities to spend the funds raised.
The Hoboken Public Education Foundation is a parent-run nonprofit organization, which aims to enhance the public schools and build a stronger school community.
“Our mission is twofold,” Pollack said. “The first and most important part was to change the conversation surrounding the school district.”
Pollack noted that for years the district had a negative stereotype, prompting parents with small children to move to the suburbs after preschool. Now she is seeing what she calls a “boomerang effect,” as people who left are returning to Hoboken and sending their children to public schools.
The second part of the nonprofit’s mission is to help raise funds for programs and initiatives that are outside the district budget.
In the 2018-2019 school year alone, the organization’s funding included the third Annual District Leadership Retreat, Google Apps for Education Leadership Team Training and Certification, the touch tank at the Indoor Living Classroom at Hoboken Middle School, Field Trip Experiences, Chromebook Carts for family use, a high school auditorium projector, Connors School sound system, a Multisensory Room at Wallace Elementary School, and fitness equipment for Hoboken High School’s Wellness and Mindfulness Center.
Among HPEF’s funding projects for next year are professional development and leadership training for teachers, items in the middle schools living classroom, as well as physical improvements in other school buildings.
Over the year Pollack will work with Superintendent Johnson to help identify what projects and programs from outside the district budget would benefit from the HPEF financial contributions. “We follow her lead in that we are always looking to expand what we do now,” she said.
The foundation is also looking into creating scholarships for seniors after a couple of parents pitched the idea.
“I see that happening in the near future, and we are in the early stages of that,” Pollack said. “We really have the bandwidth, now that we are established, to take on more roles.”
More than 250 attended the gala at the W Hotel, the nonprofit’s biggest event of the year.
Funds were raised through ticket sales, a high-profile raffle, auction items, and sponsorships. Sponsors included SJP Properties, Mack-Cali, Academy Bus, Urby, Paintzen, Bijou Properties, KMS Development Partners, Suez, BCB Community Bank, Fidelity Investments, Rocket Club, Newell, and Advance Realty.
Auction items included tickets to the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, a Vail Colorado vacation home package, a 200-hour yoga teacher training, wine tastings, professional sporting event tickets, summer camps, and health club memberships.
The foundation also raises funds through a Moms Night Out and an online donation campaign.
The HPEF looks for people who can volunteer their time and energy or donate auction items to next year’s gala.
Individuals and organizations wanting to support the Hoboken Public Education Foundation can find more information at http://www.hobokenpef.org/.
For updates on this and other stories check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.