SUMMIT, NJ - In 1986, a small group of Summit residents formed the Summit Educational Foundation (SEF), based of the idea that private funding invested in the public schools would encourage creativity and innovation.

Fast forward three decades, and the SEF today is supported by more than 700 Hilltop City families, and awards in excess of $500,000 annually in grants across all Summit Public Schools. In total, the SEF has awarded $5.4 million in grants since its inception.

Among recent SEF grants was the 2015 Summit High School (SHS) Chromebook initiative which -- at $360,000 -- was the largest single grant in the organization's history. The SEF has also provided grant funding enabling the iPad program at Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School (LCJSMS), placing advanced technology in the hands of students throughout the District to elevate teaching and learning outcomes.

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Other examples of SEF-funded, innovative initiatives are the launch of a coding club at LCJSMS, a reading fluency program at Lincoln-Hubbard Elementary, and a joint Jefferson - Washington Elementary School Teacher Leadership Training Workshop.

Globally, the SEF supports and funds innovative and essential educational programs via a close working relationship with the school district, and careful review, evaluation and financial oversight of supported initiatives. In the past five years alone, initiatives supported have included:

  • Leadership Training Professional Development for K-12 Teachers
  • 6th Grade Student and Teacher Microscopes
  • SHS College Specialist Staff Position
  • SHS Science Research Coordinator
  • Family Science, Math, and Technology Programs at all elementary schools
  • LCJSMS 21st Century Library Media Center
  • SHS On-line Graphics and Engineering by Design Course
  • SHS Virtual School Pilot Expansion
  • Lincoln Hubbard Responsive Classroom Workshop
  • Elementary School Extended Day Program
  • LCJSMS Forensics Debate Team
  • LCJSMS 21st Century Classrooms
  • SHS On-line Zoology Course
  • SHS Science Research Program Coordinator
  • SHS Virtual School Pilot
  • K-8 Literacy Initiative
  • SNAP at Elementary Schools
  • Family Technology Program at Elementary Schools
  • 6th Grade Mandarin Program
  • Biotechnology Equipment at SHS

To mark the three-decade milestone, and to highlight its broad base of community support, the SEF has launched a “$30 for 30 years” campaign, which seeks donations in multiples of $30. More information on the campaign, which will run the month of April, is available by visiting sefnj.org.

The SEF will also commemorate its 30 years of grant making to the Summit Public Schools at a reception prior to the Summit Board of Education meeting on April 21 at 6:30 p.m. The event, open to all members of the community, will be held at Summit High School, located at 125 Kent Place Boulevard.