The “Helping Students Today & Tomorrow” fundraiser returned for its eighth year on Oct. 18, raising more than $21,000 for the Ceres Unified School District (CUSD) Foundation.
Approximately 200 hundred guests gathered for a dinner, live auction, and the opportunity to honor individuals and organizations for their significant and sustained support of Ceres schools.
Parent volunteer Yeni Cisneros was honored as the 2019 Elementary Volunteer of the Year, parent advocate Linda Castellanos was named the Secondary Volunteer of the Year, and G3 Enterprises’ Logan Mayes was honored as the Community Volunteer of the Year. Also recognized were the 2019 Friends of Education, Teens Run Modesto, which provides mentors and resources to support students in experiencing the benefits of running, and Second Harvest Food Bank, which operates Mobile Fresh food distributions throughout the Ceres community.
In a video presentation during the fundraiser, recent graduates of Ceres and Central Valley high schools shared how scholarships from the CUSD Foundation alleviated some of the financial pressures associated with post-secondary education, and allowed them to focus on academics and extracurricular activities.
“I feel like it was such a blessing and an honor to receive (the scholarship) because I’m able to enjoy my first year of college not wondering, ‘how am I going to pay?’” said Briana Rodriguez, who was awarded the Walt and Edith Hanline Scholarship. “I work minimum wage and my parents, you know, they can’t really help me out … so having that scholarship, for me it’s a really big deal.”
Jennifer Novoa, 2019 recipient of a Grant and Mildred Lucas Scholarship, said, “I’m very grateful to have received this scholarship award and just to know that I don’t have to worry so much about finances, and that I get to focus more on school and the stuff that I’m involving myself in.”
The CUSD Foundation embodies the shared visions of the late Dr. M. Robert Adkison, founding superintendent of the Ceres Unified School District, community member Dave McConnell, and former superintendent Dr. Walt L. Hanline. Originally operating as two nonprofit foundations with complementary missions, the former Ceres Education Foundation merged with the CUSD Foundation in 2015. Since its inception in 2012, the “Helping Students Today & Tomorrow” fundraiser has generated more than $159,600 to benefit Ceres students through scholarships and teacher-mini grants.
Lisa Gasper, a teacher at Endeavor Alternative Center, is one of 59 Ceres teachers who applied for and received a teacher mini-grant during the 2018-19 school year. Gasper used the supplemental funding to purchase books for an elective class that helps students explore life skills such as job readiness and social etiquette.
One of Gasper’s students shared, “I’m very grateful for this program because it’s helped me get ready for my future, and made me believe that I have a future, instead of complaining how I don’t think I’m going to make it out there. I think it’s really helped me realize that I have a chance.”
The CUSD Foundation funds supplemental projects and activities to enrich learning for K-12 students, and college scholarships for graduating Ceres seniors.
To donate to the CUSD Foundation, contact Julie Lynn Martin-Borba at firstname.lastname@example.org.