Turlock Education Foundation getting into the groove with grants, music festival

— As Mary Duffy handed concert choir singers their new sheet music, they probably did not connect the Zambian song with last year’s Super Bowl. But it was the tailgate party to watch hometown hero and 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick that brought in the dollars to buy the scores.

Next Saturday, Duffy’s Dutcher Middle School students will sing at another Turlock Education Foundation fundraiser, the Festival on the Green, helping raise money to repair and replace band and orchestra instruments. And so it goes, the cycle of money raised, awarded, spent and well-used by schools.

Duffy received a $1,000 grant through the Turlock Education Foundation in the fall, one of a dozen grants provided by the nonprofit in its first year in full swing. Sheet music costs $2 to $5 per reprint, and she needs 60 copies for a choir set. The grant has added a new note to the basic, years-old selection available at Dutcher.

“We try to have variety,” Duffy said at choir practice Friday. “I can use these to introduce new styles.” So far, she’s bought the Zambian celebration song “Bonse Aba,” an Armed Forces salute medley and “Birdsong.” The latter features lyrics written by children of the Holocaust, which eighth-graders study in history class.

She’s never had so much to spend at once on materials, Duffy said. “I’m saving. It will be spent by the end of the year, but spent in increments, so I can see what we need.”

At Dennis Earl Elementary, Sarah Carpenter has purchased one clarinet and one trumpet with classroom grant money from the foundation. “(Students) were all using instruments that belong to Turlock Junior High School because we didn’t have anything at Earl at the beginning of the year,” Carpenter said.

Other grants included one to a special education class for a therapeutic swing; propagation stock for a Turlock High agriculture class; and a 3-D printer for Turlock Junior High. The total was $11,000, most raised at last year’s tailgate party, said Barney Gordon, who helped get the foundation started.

An educational foundation gives corporate and other donors a way to give to the entire town. “We won’t have a fundraiser like a (school) PTA would have a fundraiser,” said Gordon, now a Turlock Unified School District board member. “We’d like to relieve some of the pressure on PTAs, but we’re not in competition with any of these folks. We’re there to identify the needs of the school district.”

Turlock’s foundation has three main programs: classroom grants of up to $1,000; musical instrument repair and replacement; and transportation grants.

“We try to balance needs, and to make our donations as effective as possible,” he said. Transportation grants will underwrite the costliest portion of school field trips. A partnership with the Carnegie Arts Center of Turlock will bring classes there first, Gordon said, with expansion to other venues as funding permits.

The year’s biggest fundraiser for the musical instruments program will be Festival on the Green, performances by all Turlock music students. The day is free to families, with vendor booth fees providing funds for the instruments.

“Annually, TUSD and the Turlock Educational Foundation look forward to showcasing our students’ music talents and abilities at our Festival on the Green celebration, while creating an atmosphere that encourages families and community members to come together to enjoy good food and entertainment and visit local vendors,” said Dana Salles Trevethan, assistant superintendent of educational services.

Next up for the foundation is an Iron Chef-style competition May 16 featuring Pitman and Turlock high school culinary arts students at the California State University, Stanislaus, main dining facility, Gordon said. “We want to promote student work, really showcase the great things Turlock does.”

For more information or to donate to the Turlock Education Foundation, go to www.turlockedfoundation. org.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at naustin@modbee.com or (209) 578-2339. Follow her on Twitter @NanAustin.

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