The Sebastopol Rotary Education Foundation: Founded in 1982, the SREF is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt foundation.  It has an ongoing endowment approaching $1 million in size from which it directs gifts every year to support certain of the club’s education projects.
SREF was created because the Club recognized that it wanted to provide a steady and continuing level of support for education projects in West County that were not subject to the ups and downs of annual fundraising.  We wanted the ability to commit to bigger projects over the long term than we could do if we were solely dependent on our yearly fundraisers.
This past year has demonstrated the wisdom of our vision.  Starting in 2016, we began looking for a major project that would be of significant benefit to students in the West Sonoma County Union High School District.  In 2019, we identified a major need of the District - vocational training - that was going largely unmet because of budget issues.  We also identified a way to fill that need: The North Coast Builders Exchange runs a program called the North Bay Construction Corps that is designed to provide high school seniors with an introduction to job opportunities in the construction trade.  The Exchange had already begun Corps programs elsewhere in the County, but not in West County.  It was exactly the kind of program we were looking to support, but there was a challenge.  The Exchange would bring the program to West County only if we could guarantee $35,000 a year to support the program, and commit to that support for three years.  We were ready.  We had the money, and we could make the multi-year commitment.  In 2020, the first group of students, 27 seniors from WSCUHSD signed up.  The first classes were promising, but then the shelter in place order hit.  Although the students were not able to complete their program, the Exchange provided hiring opportunities after graduation.  We look forward to returning to the full program next year, and we shall also begin considering what to do when our commitment to the Corps is over.  
The Corps is not the first big project SREF has undertaken. For example, when Analy High School decided it wanted to be one of the early adopters of a “Maker” program that teaches students hands-on about how to make things, the school turned to SREF for support.  SREF responded with a $26,940 grant to fund the Maker Project, and a  further $4375 went for a laser spectrum printer and grants to help support "maker" programs at several other West County schools..   In addition, the SREF created a scholarship program for Maker student projects.  A screening committee reviewed student ideas and funding requests, and the completed projects were presented to club members at a club meeting.  In part, because of SREF’s support, noted education expert Sir Ken Robinson highlighted Analy’s efforts as an example of cutting-edge educational transformation in his new book, Creative Revolution, the Grassroots Revolution that is Transforming Education.
In addition to the big "one off" projects, SREF has annual activities is the Teacher of the Year Award.  As of 2020, the Awards are given to three teachers.  One is for a career of extraordinary excellence.  One recognizes a new teacher who has already had a positive impact at a school.  And the third goes to a teacher whose innovations have  significantly improved the educational experience where they teach.   In 2020, the awards went to Mary Jo Kinser of Pleasant Hill Christian School, who has been a driving force since the school opened almost 40 years ago.  Sydney Mardell, who has had a profound and positive impact on Twin Hills Charter Middle School even though she has only recently begun her career.  And Joe Maloney, Laguna High School, who has created many innovative opportunities for his students to investigate possible careers, including his efforts to bring the North Bay Construction Corps to West County.
SREF also provides money for Club programs that identify excellence in education and promote student achievement.  While the Club often provides much of the money for these programs, SREF's contributions ensure that these programs can function effectively, year in and year out.  Over the last decade, the SREF has funded numerous educational programs for El Molino, Laguna, and Analy High Schools by providing band instruments, computer equipment and financial support for their Project Graduations.  SREF has also supported the Sonoma County Repertory Theatre, the Hallberg Butterfly Gardens, and projects that bring enrichment in the arts and sciences to West County elementary and middle schools.  There have been numerous individual scholarships and support for the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, which helps students prepare for college, sponsored at Brook Haven School.
SREF’s Board members are chosen from the club and serve staggered four-year terms.  Included on the Board are many past presidents of the club.
To find out more about SREF, click here.