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Nonprofit aims to help Rocklin schools financially

By: Lien Hoang Special to The Placer Herald
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Students and teachers at Spring View Middle School now have a little less to compete over. With the installation of a second computer lab late last school year, more classes were able to jazz up their curriculum electronically. And while the Rocklin Educational Excellence Foundation’s $300 donation was just a small fraction of the lab’s cost, it’s a sign of things to come. “Every little bit helps,” said Jodi Konsesky, principal’s secretary at the school. REEF, which provides alternative funding to Rocklin schools, has raised roughly $20,000 in its two-year lifespan. It hopes to become institutionalized as a major partner to the Rocklin Unified School District, eventually bringing in six figures annually. “It’s pretty fledgling at this point,” REEF chairman Tom DeLapp said. In fact, he added, people joked that REEF emerged at the worst possible time, in a recession when fewer were likely to donate. “We had no illusions we were going to start by raising a lot of money,” DeLapp said. “We’re in this for the long run.” DeLapp said it was the “dismal” state of California’s budget, as it continues to slash education funding, that spurred REEF founders to action. The group’s board of directors comprises members of RUSD, the community, and local businesses. But unlike similar groups in other cities, REEF won’t exist simply to plug holes in the district’s budget. “The goal is to become a viable funding source the district can rely on, whether in years of financial distress or when the district can do some things above and beyond,” said Linda Rooney, RUSD deputy superintendent and REEF board member. As the nonprofit enters its third year, it will launch a mini-grant program in which teachers apply for individual funding to advance their curriculum, such as through field trips and innovative projects. In part to pay for that, REEF is also introducing a Founders’ Club to court major sponsors, which have the option of spreading donations out over three years. Pledges range from the bronze level ($2,500) to platinum ($25,000). That’ll help to rebuild REEF’s coffers after it gave approximately $300 to each of the 15 schools in the district. The money, earmarked for technological purchases, came directly from the bike race fundraiser, Tour de Rocklin, in October. REEF wants to make it an annual event, with the next installment to happen Oct. 16. In the past REEF has solicited contributions by participating in the city’s Trash Bash, as well as a fundraising dinner in support of local performing arts. Currently, it is partnering with Strikes Family Entertainment Center, which is offering a $40 bowling package through August, a quarter of which will go to REEF. For details, visit www.rocklineducationfoundation.org.