Excellence in Education: Supporting students one program at a time | SierraSun.com

Excellence in Education: Supporting students one program at a time

Katja Dahl
Special to the Sun

TAHOE-TRUCKEE — It takes a village — or, for the Excellence in Education Foundation over the past 30 years, it has taken a supportive community.

It all began back in the 1980s when many California school districts first began to feel the crunch of reduced state funding for education.

Understanding that this trend was not going to reverse itself, a group of concerned citizens rallied together to pass a parcel tax to support local education.

The tax failed, however, the group encouraged voters that had been in favor of the tax to donate to a new community education foundation, the Excellence in Education Foundation, which officially formed in 1987.

During the first two years, the group raised nearly $30,000; however, over the next few years, fundraising efforts slowed as the Foundation searched for a unified mission.

Fast-forward to 1990, when Linda Brown, Bill McClintock, Cindy Gustafson, Nancy Wendt from the Squaw Valley, and Jerry Henley of Truckee River Bank made a presentation to the Tuesday Morning Breakfast Club, stressing the need for an active education foundation.

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Roger Kahn threw his hat in the ring immediately after. Encouraged by their creative ideas and motivation, the existing Excellence in Education Foundation members invited this new group of community leaders to join their efforts as part of the board. They agreed and the Foundation was back on track.

At the time, there were 160 education foundations in California. Most were formed in a desperate attempt to rescue programs that schools were losing due to budget cuts and therefore were driven by district-identified needs. The Excellence in Education, however, decided to take the road less traveled and instead fund teacher-identified needs.

Now, with fresh leadership and a clear mission, the Foundation kicked off renewed fundraising efforts with a $10,000 seed donation from Truckee River Bank, followed by significant fundraisers hosted by Squaw Valley USA, the Resort at Squaw Creek and Northstar Resort.

Skiing for Schools launched during the 1991-1992 winter season by Squaw Valley and raised $14,000. Today, nine resorts participate and last winter the program raised $76,000 and close to $1.5 million since inception.

"Squaw Valley has always taken tremendous pride in our partnership with Excellence in Education," explains Mike Livak, executive vice president of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. "In the 2015-16 season, Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows donated $30,000 in cash and in-kind donations to Excellence in Education, recognizing the vital importance of supporting students and teachers in the local school district.

"Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows is proud to partner with such a foundational community organization that has been enhancing public education for decades."

Stay tuned in the weeks and months to come as we share more about how Excellence in Education Foundation and its programs have contributed to the North Lake Tahoe community.

Katja Dahl is an Excellence in Education board member. Visit http://www.ExinEd.org to learn more.