The San Francisco Education Fund (Ed Fund) held its annual Back to School Gala on October 19, 2023, at the iconic Hibernia in San Francisco. This year, the gala revolved around the core theme of the Ed Fund’s guiding principle and tagline – It Takes a Community. It was a remarkable gathering where community members, partners, and leaders – including San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne, SFUSD school staff, and administration – united to celebrate and underscore the vital role that community support plays in delivering an equitable and outstanding education for all San Francisco public school students. The gala’s program beautifully exemplified the collaborative spirit that defines the Ed Fund, our partners, community leaders, and all those in attendance. It vividly showcased the profound belief that, indeed, it takes a community to create lasting and positive change in our education system. 

Together, we raised $457,000 to make excellent, equitable education the reality for our city’s students. We’re also delighted to share that – in the middle of our programming – we found out that the San Francisco Education Fund was awarded the Nonprofit of the Year from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce at its Excellence in Business Awards (EBBIES) ceremony – happening simultaneously.  

Guests respond to learning that the Ed Fund received the Nonprofit of the Year EBBIE award by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce  

Evening Recap: Performance by Students from June Jordan School for Equity’s Hip Hop Education Class  

Following a cocktail hour, the evening’s programming began with a student performance from the Hip Hop Education club from June Jordan School for Equity (JJSE). Last year, teacher Mandeep Sethi was awarded an Ed Fund Create Joy educator grant to support this project.

“With the Create Joy grant, we were able to bring in artists from our community who were able to engage, buy gear so we were able to produce and make music,” said Mandeep. “Shout out to the San Francisco Education Fund for believing in hip hop culture, for believing in June Jordan School for Equity, and for believing in the youth of the Excelsior, Bayview-Hunters Point, and beyond!” 

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JJSE junior R.J. performs a song he wrote and produced in the school’s Hip Hop Education Club 
JJSE junior Kevin performs a song he wrote and produced in the school’s Hip Hop Education Club  
JJSE educator Mandeep Sethi (center) with student performers R.J. (left) and Kevin  

Welcome by Ann Levy Walden and Becky Karsh 

After the performance, Ed Fund Board of Directors President Becky Karsh took the stage to welcome our guests, thank our sponsors, and set the stage for the night. She introduced Ed Fund CEO Ann Levy Walden, who joined the Ed Fund in July with more than 20 years of experience in developing, launching, and improving educational and philanthropic programs. “In just three months I am awed by the passion and commitment I’ve seen from this community,” reflected Ann. “Public education is the heartbeat of a city and it requires our collective commitment to keep that beat pulsing. Each of us must recognize our role in shaping San Francisco into not only a world-class place to live and work but also a place where children can grow, learn, and thrive.”  

Remarks from SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne  

Following a delicious dinner catered by Melons, SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne took the stage and delivered a powerful message. 

“I’ve learned in this first year and a half as superintendent, the incredible work that the Ed Fund does. And particularly, how good of a partner the Ed Fund is for us. We recently adopted goals for student outcomes around third grade literacy, eighth grade math, and college and career readiness. And there’s nothing revolutionary in adopting goals like that, but they have brought a level of focus that has been needed as a district. And as we’re trying to work towards those focus areas, we’re working with our partners, and I want to really appreciate the SF Ed Fund and in saying, ‘We see this goal you have, we’re committed to supporting literacy, how can we help? How can we strengthen our programs so they’re helping you move the needle with your students?’ That support is incredibly important.” 

Dr. Matt Wayne, SFUSD Superintendent
SFUSD Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne

Glady Thacher Community Partnership Award 

We also awarded the second annual Glady Thacher Community Partnership Award to Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 Community School (BVHM). This award, created in honor of the Ed Fund’s founder Glady Thacher, recognizes BVHM’s significant role as a partner to the Ed Fund and demonstrates the power of collaboration with community members and organizations to benefit San Francisco’s youth. BVHM is an Ed Fund priority school and was this year’s school nominee, while the other two nominees – 826 Valencia and Hanson Bridgett – represented non-profit partner organization and corporate partnership organization respectively. Read the full announcement here

BVHM Principal Claudia Delarios Morán (center with award) next to her daughter and Nick Chandler, BVHM Community School Coordinator. Ed Funder Rebecca Kroll and Rebecca Moreno to the left and right, respectively  

Video Debut: It Takes a Community at Two Tenderloin / SOMA Schools 

The Ed Fund proudly unveiled a new video about the support that two Ed Fund priority schools receive from Ed Fund programs: Tenderloin Community School and Bessie Carmichael Elementary and Middle School. This video illustrates the Ed Fund is partnering to support students every step of their educational journey through multiple programs, so they can ultimately achieve their dreams.   

Fund-a-Need and Raffle Recap 

Emcee and auctioneer Michael Tate leveraged the crowd’s energy following the exciting program to transition guests into the Fund-a-Need portion of the evening, in which the Ed Fund raised $160,550. We also raised an additional $7,200 through raffle sales, in which prizes included a Sonoma wine country outing, a San Francisco arts and culture package, and a Barber Lee in-home spirits tasting. Congratulations to all the winners and a huge thank you to all who raised their paddles during the Fund-a-Need!  

Master of Ceremonies Michael Tate during the Fund-a-Need 
Benefactor Sponsor and Ed Fund Leadership Council Chair JaMel Perkins raises her paddle during the Fund-a-Need 

Thank you again to our sponsors who helped make this event possible and helped the Ed Fund get one step closer to making excellent, equitable education the reality for our city’s public school students. 

Benefactor Sponsors  

  • Dodge & Cox 
  • Katherine and Daniel Gillespie 
  • Eric and Rachel Jones 
  • Susan and Bill Oberndorf  
  • JaMel and Tom Perkins  
  • Waymo 

Partner Sponsors 

  • Bain & Company 
  • Rebecca and Jason Karsh 
  • Edward and Elizabeth McDermott 
  • Anne and Charlie Warren 
  • James and Lou Kim 
  • Warriors 

Friend Sponsors 

  • Jessica Bier and Edgar Lopez  
  • Prasanth Boda and Sajida Kaliyadan  
  • Joseph Ghobrial  
  • Hanson Bridgett 
  • Leslie and George Hume  
  • Kaiser Permanente   
  • Katherine Mitchell Ladd  
  • Masons of California  
  • William McRae  
  • Rachel Patterson  
  • David and Susan Tunnell 

Supporter Sponsors 

  • Gregory Malin and Elena Zorn  

The Back to School Gala may be over, but it’s just the start of the next chapter of what our community can achieve together! Please help us reach our goal of securing an additional $45,000 by donating here.