Staying On Course

As a national leader in public education, the Poway Unified School District (PUSD) seeks to provide the best possible education for all students, ensuring that they graduate prepared for a successful future. Read along as we speak with Mt. Carmel Education Foundation (MCEF) President Tom McFadden and Westview Foundation President Stephaine Hudson about how these organizations help bridge the gap between student needs and available funds to enhance the academic and extracurricular experience for all at Rancho Peñasquitos’ high schools.

Q&A with MCEF President Tom McFadden

cover13What is the history behind the Mt. Carmel Education Foundation?
The Mt. Carmel Education Foundation was created in 2010. At the time, our high school was the only one in the PUSD without an education foundation. Our purpose is to help supplement the financial gap between student educational needs and the funds available to meet those needs. Additionally, we are focused on providing students real-world work experiences, an area we call Community Connections.

What is MCEF’s primary mission?
The mission of MCEF is to fundraise for worthy educational projects, enrichment programs, educational initiatives, and extracurricular activities and to create opportunities for students to gain practical work and educational experiences beyond the classroom.

How does MCEF fulfill this mission?
Our busiest time of the year is August, September, and October. During this time we are collecting donations, reviewing grant applications submitted by the teachers, and moving quickly to get all funds back into the classroom and working for our kids. Our goal is to have all dollars that we collect in August and September back and benefiting the students before Thanksgiving. With the help of Mt. Carmel’s wonderful administrative staff, we’ve been very successful making this happen.
On the Community Connections side, we have organized and run workshops on interview techniques, resume writing, and financial education. Additionally, we have worked with the school liaison to help find and provide internships for the students.

What types of programs does your foundation fund?
We are very proud that we have been able to provide funds to almost every department in the school. Our goal with funding has always been to get the biggest “bang for our buck.” With every dollar spent, we are trying to positively impact as many students for as long a duration as possible. With that in mind, we have been able to purchase computers, printers, and software for our world language, science, and math departments. We have funded our “world famous” physics boat materials for the last four years. We were able to provide supplies for the very popular sports medicine class at our school.

In addition to providing books and periodicals for our library, we’ve also been able to fund library computers and printers for use by those students that may not have access at home. In 2014, we bought a MacBook Pro for our award-winning school newspaper. We’ve also been able to help our school counselors by funding upgrades and licenses for Naviance, the college application process software used at our school. We’ve even purchased yoga mats and badminton rackets for the P.E. department.

cover2Why is it important for schools to have education foundations?
Although the financial picture of our district has improved in recent years, there is still a large gap between school needs and funding available. Foundations play an important role in addressing this gap. In 2010, the first year of our foundation’s existence, we received grant requests totaling over $60,000 – we were able to provide approximately $10,000. We’ve continued to work hard to close this gap, but it is still significant. Another major reason a foundation like ours is so important is the flexibility and speed at which we operate. Even though one of our biggest challenges is recruiting help, one of the advantages of being a relatively small board is we can make immediate decisions and get funds into our classrooms quickly. We can also be relatively flexible with our spending. If we feel dollars spent on a particular item or project will positively impact our students, we generally don’t have to look any further – we vote on it and write the check.

cover8What is most exciting about being a part of the foundation?
One of the things I look forward to most about our monthly meetings is our Principal’s Report. Greg Magno has been a member of the Mt. Carmel community for as long as I can remember; first as an assistant principal and now as our principal. One of the biggest benefits of being a member of your kids’ school foundation is the in-person information provided. Greg is passionate about Mt. Carmel and the education of our kids. Having the opportunity to hear and discuss some of the ideas he has about how to make our school better is very exciting. He’s open to any and all suggestions and willing to answer all of our questions. Our foundation meetings are really a great source of information about what is happening on campus and in the classrooms. Perhaps a lot of parents can get this information from their children, but I haven’t found the secret to prying any significant details in this area out of my kids.

Tell us about your board of directors. How do they help keep the foundation running?
Our board is wonderful. We are a pretty small group (we’re trying to change that) so a lot of work falls on only a few shoulders, but they are all willing to step up and put in the time. Steve Swendrowski has taken on the VP of Community Connections role and has already facilitated two financial workshops. He has established relationships with a number of organizations that will help provide future workshops to our students. Nels Lundgren joined the foundation about three years ago and has taken on the secretary position. Ruth Loh is our VP of grant proposals. Tracy Middleton is our VP of fundraising. She has looked into several opportunities and is currently working on a 5K Fun Run. The remainder of our board is Raj Iyer, Ketan Shah, Maitrayee Sahi, Mary Jane Barger, and Julie Islitzer. They are all extremely hard-working people and do so much for our kids, both with MCEF and other organizations at school. We have several open board positions that we are actively looking to fill in the near future.

“If anyone is looking for a relatively easy way to get involved that doesn’t come with a significant time commitment, I’d encourage them to look into their school foundation. You can really do a lot of good for the kids and some of the closest friends I have today are people I met while working for a foundation.”
– Tom McFadden, MCEF President

Does MCEF hold fundraisers throughout the year?
Our main fundraiser is a simple donation request at the beginning of the school year.

How can individuals help contribute to MCEF’s mission?
Similar to many of the other school foundations in the district, our biggest need is volunteers. We’d love to bring five to 10 new people in this year to help us going forward. Volunteering for our foundation does not mean you walk in with a list of responsibilities. We’re simply looking for people that are willing to share their ideas and help as much as possible, most often in a peripheral role, with the various tasks necessary to run a successful foundation. Our meetings are usually on the third Wednesday of the month at the school and are open to the public. We’d encourage interested individuals to just come and check us out.

cover7What are your long-term and short-term goals?
Smart growth. We’ll continue to be able to put the money we have back into the school and enhance our kids’ education. We’ll continue to be able to put together real world work experience workshops and seminars. We won’t be able to close the gap we face without help. So, our long-term and short-term goals are the same; steady, productive, and smart growth.

cover3Is there anything else you would like for 92129 Magazine readers to know?
All of my kids went to Sunset Hills Elementary, Black Mountain Middle School, and Mt. Carmel High School. Like a lot of our community’s parents, I wanted to help where I could and I wanted to get more information about what was really going on at my kids’ school. I started in 2001 by joining the Sunset Hills Elementary School Foundation. I’m a CPA, so I tend to naturally jump into the treasurers’ spot. After about six years as treasurer there, I spent another four as the president. The remarkable thing is the benefits of being on that foundation 15 years ago are really the same as the benefits I experience today from being a member of MCEF: the simple pride and rewards associated with helping our students and the wealth of information I can get in just a few meetings a year that include the school principal and other school staff. If anyone is looking for a relatively easy way to get involved that doesn’t come with a significant time commitment, I’d encourage them to look into their school foundation. You can really do a lot of good for the kids and some of the closest friends I have today are people I met while working for a foundation.


MCEF President
Name: Tom McFadden
Community: Rancho Peñasquitos
Education: Bonita Vista High School; San Diego State University
Family: Wife – Theresa; children – Joseph (class of 2012), Jennifer (class of 2014),
Jessica (class of 2015), and Michelle (class of 2017); dog – Rudy (9)
Hobbies & Interests: Football, golf, racquetball, and spending time with my family

Mt. Carmel Education Foundation
President: Tom McFadden

Q&A with Westview Foundation President Stephaine Hudson

cover14What is the history behind Westview Foundation?
Westview Foundation was founded on June 11, 2002, the date of incorporation, as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation. The primary purpose of the foundation is to bridge the gap between the increasing cost of education and lower-than-average funds from the district and state. The foundation’s primary goal is to enhance both academic and extracurricular activities for students of Westview High School.

What is Westview Foundation’s primary mission?
Our foundation works in partnership with staff and teachers to identify needs and projects that benefit Westview students.

How does Westview Foundation fulfill this mission?
Nearly all of our funds come from direct donations made by caring, concerned parents. Some employers will match charitable donations, doubling that parent’s gift. In addition, Ralph’s/Kroger is a supporter and offers us a percentage back on certain items when shoppers use the link provided on our foundation website.

What types of programs does your foundation fund?
Last year, donations from parents to Westview Foundation funded the following:

  • 40 Chromebook computers and a charging cart, used daily by students in the classrooms
  • Extended library hours and peer counseling programs
  • Three TI-Nspire Navigators to enhance student-teacher interaction in math classes
  • Nine teacher mini-grants ranging from $75 to $1,100 for teaching enhancement items (for example, 20 vertebrate skull samples and an aquarium chiller for the science department, and updated technology for the art department)
  • Grad Night t-shirts for graduating seniors (continuing our alliance with PTSA)

cover6How does Westview Foundation help school staff?

Westview has such gifted, brilliant teachers, and our foundation mini-grants are a great way to allow their innovation to flourish in the classrooms. Teachers can apply for funds to cover technology, supplies, or whatever they need to teach more creatively and effectively.

“For schools in this area, it is impossible to offer top-tier education and enrichment programs based upon the funding ratios we receive from the State. Westview Foundation bridges that funding gap, providing our students the tools they need to succeed.”
– Stephaine Hudson, Westview Foundation President

What is most exciting about being a part of the foundation?
Working together with a group of dedicated parents and school administrators to make sure our students have an excellent education.

Tell us about your board of directors. How do they help keep the foundation running?
Our board is comprised of an executive board of seven parent members and three administrators. We meet monthly to discuss fundraising, our financial status, and how our donations can best be used to benefit our students.

Can you highlight any significant upcoming events?
This year’s Back to School Fund Drive started Aug. 8. Donations of any size are welcomed and appreciated!

How can individuals and the community help contribute to Westview Foundation’s mission?
We simply ask all parents to give what they can! Each year, we receive donations from $5 to more than $1,000 – every one of those donations makes a difference in the lives of our students.

cover1What are your long-term and short-term goals?
Long-term: Provide a sustainable resource that supports the acquisition of technology to keep our learning environments (classrooms and resource areas across our campus) current and up-to-date.
Short-term: Provide the necessary financial resources for teachers, groups, or teams to address immediate needs of their classroom, group, or team.

How has the foundation evolved over the years?
In the first few years, there were numerous attempts made to run fundraising events for the school such as pancake breakfasts, golf tournaments, dances, etc. These events required an immense amount of work from our volunteer board members, and unfortunately, they often resulted in little financial gain for the foundation. Input from the community led us to realizing that parents in this area are just too busy to deal with the demands of countless fundraisers and events. Parents tell us they appreciate the efficiency of one easy back-to-school fund drive.

Is there anything else you would like for 92129 Magazine readers to know?
Our volunteer foundation board members look forward to continuing and improving our positive relationship with parents, teachers, staff, PTSA, and the community!


Westview Foundation President
Name: Stephaine Hudson
Community: Rancho Peñasquitos
Education: M.Ed. in Special Education from University of San Diego
Family: Husband – Rick; children – Ricky (17), Tyler (13), and Spencer (5)
Hobbies & Interests: Working with children with ASD, watching my children play lacrosse, and simply relaxing with my family

Westview Foundation
President: Stephaine Hudson
Phone: 858-780-2000