In 2002, parents Cece Doucette and Cindy Hoyle worked with Ashland Superintendent Dr. Richard Hoffmann to refocus the Foundation's mission. With commitments from several volunteers and community members, an infrastructure (legal/tax filings and finances; creating brochures, and a fundraising database) as well as a development strategy focused on businesses and corporations within the surrounding community was put in place.
In January 2004, a 13-member board of directors representing community leaders, business leaders, local professionals, local/state officials and educators was formed. Together they further defined the AEFI mission, vision and goals and our first website was launched. During this period, two campaigns were launched to replace outdated computers at the Henry Warren School and David Mindess School.
In September/October 2004 the Foundation held its first raffle with prizes generously donated by Staples, Inc.
In May of both years, an Awards Ceremony was held to honor not only the teachers receiving grants but also the Foundation’s most generous donors and supporters. Over $5,000 in grants were awarded in 2004 which grew to $7200 in 2005.
Our grant-giving cycle was expanded to twice a year and continued our tradition of honoring our generous supporters and innovative educators at our spring Fundraising Dinner and Grant Awards Ceremony. In 2006, Staples Corporation generously sponsored this event at their home offices in Framingham and we raised over $5,000 in ticket sales, silent auction items and a heads/tails raffle for future teacher grant awards. The following year, Ashland Lions hosted this event in our new High School dining hall.
In 2007, when the sixth graders moved to the Middle School to join the seventh and eighth graders, the existing computers were no longer enough to service the 600+ students there. Together with the school administrators and the PTO, the AEFI launched the Middle School Mobile Computer Lab Campaign and raised enough funds to purchase 30 laptops housed on two mobile wireless carts to use across the classrooms.
In spring 2008, Staples Corporation once again generously sponsored our Teacher Grant Awards and Fundraising Dinner at their home offices in Framingham. We also began fundraising for the following innovative programs: Mindess Classroom Computer Campaign, Art Appreciation & Integration Poster Library Campaign, Warren School Cafetorium Campaign. The latter campaign was completed in January 2009, just in time for Ashland first- and second-graders to watch the inauguration of President Barack Obama! In 2008 and 2009, we awarded over $29,800 in grants.
In spring 2010, Staples Corporation once again generously sponsored our Teacher Grant Awards and Fundraising Dinner at their home offices in Framingham. In 2010 we awarded 10 grants for over $12,400. We also began fundraising for the Computer Monitor Campaign. Initially two anonymous corporate donors gave the district 100 refurbished computers, but they came without monitors. So generous AEFI supporters provided funding for 100 environmentally and ecologically recommended flat-screens and we installed the desperately needed PC’s throughout the district. Then our benefactors really wowed us with another 150 CPU’s and our loyal AEFI supporter provided monitors for all 250 by the fall of 2010!
The GIFTS program continues to exceed expectations. The 2010 holiday campaign raised a record-breaking $4,025, recognizing 145 educators.
In March of 2011 we began fundraising for the following:
Learning Carts - These mobile learning carts include a digital camera, and a either a MimioTeach device or an Interactive Projector. This type of equipment is becoming the standard for teaching today, and is instrumental in allowing teachers to prepare our children for high school and college. Learning carts dedicated to each school will be shared among all of the classrooms in that school. This campaign is ongoing.
In April 2011, we held our 8th Annual Gala and Teacher Grants Award Ceremony here in town. We doubled the number of attendees and raised over $21,000 in ticket sales, silent auction items and raffles for future teacher grant awards. In 2011 we awarded 11 grants for over $15,100.
Our GIFTs program raised over $5,000 between the December and May fundraising. We also conducted our first Marathon Challenge raising over $2,000, when Leslie Marci ran the Boston Marathon collecting funds for the foundation.
In March of 2012 the board made a large grant of $32,000 to sponsor the STEM learning lab at the Ashland Middle School. We also committed to fundraising for additional materials to support this lab as our next capital campaign.
In April 2012, we held our 9th Annual Gala and Teacher Grants Award Ceremony at Indian Meadows Country Club. The event brought in over $21,000. At the event, we awarded 8 grants for over $8,700 to the educators in the Ashland Public Schools. The foundation also reached a milestone awarding over $100,000 in teacher grants since inception!
In September, 2012, we celebrated the dedication and opening of the STEM lab at the Ashland Middle School and we were close to completing our STEM Capital Campaign.
$5,000 between the December and May fundraising. We also conducted our second annual Marathon Challenge raising over $5,500, when Tricia McSweeney, Jill McKelvey and Sharon Ames ran the Boston Marathon on April 15th collecting funds for the teacher grant program. The AEFI is extremely grateful for their fundraising efforts and in light of the events that occurred on Marathon Monday thankful that our runners and their families were all safe. Although they were not able to complete the 26.2 mile race, they did complete 25.8 miles before being diverted from the finish line. We are also grateful to Larry Gillis of Poland Spring Pure Spring Water for securing the marathon numbers this year.
In April 2013, we held our 10th Annual Gala and Teacher Grants Award Ceremony at Indian Meadows Country Club. We continued to increase the number of attendees and brought in over $36,000 in ticket sales, new online auction, silent auction and raffles for future teacher grant awards. We also awarded 13 grants for over $38,000 to the educators in the Ashland Public Schools. At the event we kicked off the “iNnovate with iPads” Capital Campaign for the Ashland High School committing to raising over $63,000 to purchase 10 iPad Carts each containing 10 iPad2’s for use throughout the high school.
The 2013-2014 school year was an incredible year!
For the first time ever, the AEFI and PTO partnered together to host the Metrowest College and Career Fair. This exciting day was free to the public and hosted families from all towns around us. The event occurred at the Ashland High School on Saturday, March 22, 2014 from 1:00-4:00. There were representatives from over 90 colleges, as well as colleagues from over 100 professions available for students to question to gain valuable perspective on the path to their dream career.
This spring we reached several milestones! First, we hosted our 11th annual AEFI Gala and Teacher Grants Awards Ceremony at the Framingham Sheraton, and had over 370 people in record attendance. The night was festive, and the AEFI awarded a record 21 innovative teaching grants totaling almost $60,000. Thanks to our hard working gala committee members we raised almost $36,000 to be used for next year's grant awards.
We were fortunate enough to have three athletes again run the Boston Marathon to support us and finish our third Marathon Challenge, raising over $5,000 to support our teacher grant program. Our runners Tricia McSweeney, Sharon Ames, and Alycia LeDuc all successfully completed the marathon and we could not be more grateful to them for supporting us. Again, a special Thank You to Larry Gillis of Poland Spring for helping secure marathon numbers for us.
Lastly, thanks to our many supporters in businesses, personal donations and grants we were able to finish raising $55,000 to supply the Ashland High School with 100 iPads and iPad cards to finish the iNnovate with iPads campaign. The iPads will be shared by all the classrooms at the High School and offers fantastic opportunity for enhanced 21st century learning.
The Ashland Education Foundation, Inc. has been organized as a non-profit corporation under Mass. General Law's Chapter 180, exclusively for charitable and educational purposes within the meaning of Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.