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April 21, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Annual auction, dinner benefits Menlo Park school district Annual auction, dinner benefits Menlo Park school district (April 21, 2004)

** Atherton garden setting for foundation event.

By Marjorie Mader
Almanac Staff Writer

The Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation "Goes Hollywood" for its annual auction and dinner on Saturday, May 1, in the garden of an Atherton home.

The foundation's major fundraiser is projected to raise 25 percent to 30 percent of the foundation's annual grant to the Menlo Park City School District, which last year totaled a record $1.1 million.

The grant funded libraries, science, technology and musical instruments, benefiting 2,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade at the district's four schools: Laurel, Encinal, Oak Knoll and Hillview Middle.

This year about 450 auction items -- from parties and gourmet meals to tickets to sports events and vacation getaways to Tahiti, Hawaii and Tahoe, valued at more than $200,000 -- will go to winning bidders.

Dinner will be prepared by chefs from Scott's Seafood, JZ Cool Eatery, Carpaccio, MacArthur Park and Prolific Oven. Dancing under the stars to the music of "Rock Hard," a popular local band playing hits from the 1970s and 1980s, will end the evening.

Lisa Schatz, a foundation board member, is heading up the event and coordinating the efforts of more than 100 volunteers.

Six corporations have joined the foundation's new corporate- sponsorship program to contribute funds to help pay for teachers and programs at the district's schools, said June Flora, the foundation's president.

New program

Ms. Flora has announced a new auction item -- funding an educational program that will benefit students during the five "minimum" days, when teachers set aside half a day to meet with parents. Instead of being dismissed at 11:30 a.m. on the minimum days, students would stay at school and participate in an educational program.

The foundation's goal is to raise $45,000 to help fund a science program for first- through fifth-graders during parent-teacher conference days. This program would be provided at the school sites under an agreement with Galileo Education Services (www.galileoed.com), which has conducted summer programs at school campuses, including Oak Knoll. At Hillview Middle School, an afternoon program will be designed in which students may choose to explore activities such as art, drama, physical education, robotics and woodworking.

The new program will benefit parents, too, because they won't have to make arrangement for child care, said Superintendent Ken Ranella. Details of the programs would be developed after foundation funding is assured, he said.

Parents, businesses and community members may donate any amount to this new program by going to www.mpaef.org and clicking on: Fund-a Need; or by sending a check to MPAEF, P.O. Box 584, Menlo Park 94024.

The firms participating in the corporate underwriting program at levels of $2,500 and above are: Lonergan Richards, an executive search firm, in partnership with Nextance, a group of local Realtors; Sofinnova Ventures; Cooley Godward LLP; Skadden Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom LLP; and palmOne.

The foundation has raised more than $9.3 million since its founding in 1982.


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