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SEF Success Leaves Members Planning for Future Growth

The Southington Education Foundation has seen early success and is now looking to expand on the opportunities already provided.

When the Southington Education Foundation was established in 2009, there was just one goal in mind: to expand the educational opportunities in Southington classrooms.

The foundation is now looking to expand that mission and increase the grant opportunities that the organization provides through the hiring of a professional fundraiser. The effort is one of just several to help the organization prepare for the future, said members Dawn Miceli and Beth Pestillo.

“We’ve had a lot of success and have been able to award over $50,000 to programs at all 12 public schools,” said Pestillo, a member of the executive board. “This is the type of thing that could help take us to the next level.”

The organization has seen a lot of success due in part to support from the community said George Costanzo, chairman of the foundation’s grant committee.

Since its inception, the foundation has been able to award 99.9 percent of all proceeds and donations. The committee has had money to work with, thanks to a variety of donations from local businesses and educational leaders as well as from fundraising from programs such as benefit dinners at Outback and the SEF Adult Spelling Bee.

While the proceeds have allowed for a lot of great out-of-the-box programs, Costanzo said the committee is seeing an increase in creative after school opportunities and community-wide programs. They have also seen an increase in the number of proposals.

“Almost all the proposals we receive now could be approved. They have been high quality and it’s making it difficult to try and select just a few winners,” Costanzo said. “We would love to do more, but there is more funding needed.”

Miceli said the move to a professional fundraiser is designed to improve the foundation’s coffers at a minimal cost and open the foundation to receive grants and corporate donations that they would not otherwise be able to receive.

There is a lot of available money out there, Miceli said, and a professional fundraiser on part-time hours would allow for maximum benefit at virtually no cost to the foundation.

“It makes sense at this point for us to look forward. We are committed to assisting the outside the classroom as well to help build on the opportunities we’ve provided for Southington students,” Miceli said. “We need someone in place who knows the ins and outs to get grants and get that key sponsorship that will elevate our efforts.”

Miceli said the foundation has already had discussions with officials and members of the YMCA to expand on educational opportunities. One such opportunity is at , where the foundation is looking to assist in building a fully functioning outdoor science center. The center would be available to all Southington schools, both private and public.

“Before we can do these kinds of things, we need to have a steady stream of funding. That’s what a fundraiser could provide,” Pestillo said.

Applicants for the position can apply by submitting their resume through the Southington Education Foundation website, which can be accessed by clicking on the link, or through mail at P.O. Box 42, Southington, CT, 06489.

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