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Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation: Fostering Innovation in the Scarsdale Schools

SHSPaverCourtyardThe SHS courtyard is lined with pavers enscibed with the names of donors.Now that the Scarsdale Schools Educational Foundation’s (SSEF) first major campaign is complete, will they continue to support the Scarsdale Schools? In September, the foundation will celebrate the opening of the Design Lab and Fitness Center at Scarsdale High School, both built with over $2.25 million in funds that the SSEF raised from the community. Grants from SSEF were used to fund these two projects in combination with an $18.1 million bond to finance extensive capital improvements throughout the Scarsdale Schools. This was the first time in Scarsdale's history that private funds were combined on this scale with public financing to improve the schools.

The capital campaign was the second initiative for SSEF who initially provided $90,000 in grants that were used to build Makerspaces in Scarsdale’s elementary schools, to implement a Gaming and Simulation curriculum at Scarsdale Middle School and to fund a programming and coding project, HackScarsdale, at the High School.

So what’s next for the foundation? We met with the foundation’s Executive Director Steve Seward to learn more about the foundation’s goals for the future.

It turns out that students will benefit immediately from the foundation's grants when they return to school this fall. For the first time, in September 2018, two sections of a new AT class in Entrepreneurship will be offered in the high school Design Lab. The classes will be taught by Lisa Yokana and Brian McDonald, and both sections are already fully subscribed. Funding for curriculum development for the class was provided by the foundation last year in support of a class that served as a prototype for the new courses.

At the elementary schools and the Middle School, Seward said the foundation's Grants Committee is seeking ideas from administrators and teachers for innovative projects that fit the foundation’s overall mission to support programs at all levels of education in existing and new spaces. "We seek to supplement the District budget by providing funds for initiatives that do not fit within the constraints of the District's operating budget," Seward said.

The foundation will continue to look to the District's Center for Innovation for worthy projects. As Seward put it, "we see the Center for Innovation as an ideal incubator for good ideas and new projects. We welcome the opportunity to be the accelerator for those projects district-wide."DesignLabThe new Design Lab at Scarsdale High School

With ever increasing pressure from the state and taxpayers to limit tax increases, funding from the Education Foundation can help to drive innovation and keep the Scarsdale Schools at the forefront of education nationwide.

The Foundation has proven its value to the community and will continue to innovate in the years to come. This summer they welcomed four new board members: Elinor Etkes, Seema Jaggi, Megan Simon and Scott Zemachson.

The entire community is invited to a celebration of the design lab, the fitness center and the paver courtyard at Scarsdale High School on September 27 at 7 pm. Mark your calendar to join the party.

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