MBEF often serves as a resource for information about our Manhattan Beach public schools. We regularly receive questions about the purpose of MBEF, school funding, the connection to MBUSD, the educational programs we fund, the MBEF Endowment, and more recently, about distance learning.

The answers to these and other important questions can be found below. If you have a question that is not addressed in the FAQ’s, please email MBEF and we will do our best to address it.

MBEF’s Mission

What is the purpose of the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation?

As a community-driven fundraising organization, MBEF provides a means for the Manhattan Beach community to invest in superior public education for our students. The support has provided a foundation of excellence and has grown into a multimillion-dollar commitment that maintains reasonable class sizes, rigorous academics, and a breadth of educational experiences from kindergarten through high school. MBEF ensures that every child attending public school in Manhattan Beach has access to programs that inspire learning, enrich teaching, and promote innovation and academic excellence. Learn more about the MBEF Grants to our schools.

How is MBEF governed?

MBEF is governed by a Board of Directors, comprised of roughly 35 members, all of whom are MBUSD parents. Members of our Board represent all school sites and bring a broad range of expertise including legal, financial services, human resources, communications, accounting, fund development and nonprofit management. The PTA/PTSA President from each school in the district is also represented as a voting member of the Board.

Hilary Mahan is the Executive Director and oversees the daily operations of MBEF and the Endowment. Hilary came to MBEF in 2014 with an extensive background in educational policy and nonprofit management. A small team works alongside Hilary and together they oversee the Annual Appeal, fund development, community outreach, events, district collaboration, grantmaking and accountability, budgeting, and more.

MBEF Board meetings are open to the public and are held monthly at the district headquarters on Peck Avenue. We welcome and encourage your attendance.

How does MBEF raise money?

There are a number of ways in which our community supports the MBEF’s mission to strengthen our schools:

  • Annual Appeal Campaign
  • Endowment Fund
  • Community Partner Program
  • Manhattan Wine Auction
  • Community Events

We rely on each of these revenue sources to reach our goal each year. Please consider participation in one or all of the ways that resonate with you. All donors are acknowledged based on their participation and giving level.

Annual Appeal Campaign
The Annual Appeal is MBEF’s primary source of funding each year and depends on support from MBUSD families districtwide. The support we receive each year through the Annual Appeal helps ensure that MBEF is able to sustain academic excellence and enrichment programs in our schools for the upcoming school year. Typically, Annual Appeal proceeds make up 70% of the entire grant to MBUSD for educational programs.

MBEF Endowment Fund
The MBEF Endowment was created to provide a continuing and sustainable source of funding to ensure that our students benefit from high quality educational programs – now and for generations to come. Through generous contributions and responsible investing, the Endowment has grown significantly over the years, allowing for an annual disbursement to MBEF from the income generated. With continued support from our community, the annual disbursement to our schools will continue to increase.

Community Partner Program
MBEF’s Community Partner Program has a wide range of sponsorship opportunities available for companies to build awareness and show their support of our Manhattan Beach schools. If you are a South Bay business owner, we would love to have you join our program. It truly takes the entire community to support an outstanding public-school system!

Manhattan Wine Auction
The Manhattan Wine Auction, now over twenty-five years old, is the largest charity wine auction in Southern California, and raises over $1M annually for MBEF through sponsorships, ticket sales, and silent and live auctions. Hosted at the Manhattan Country Club, the Wine Auction sells out every year with approximately 2,000 guests sampling the best in food and wine in a casual and festive atmosphere.

Community Events
Throughout the year, there are several organized events, large and small, that support MBEF and our mission to strengthen our schools. The SKECHERS Friendship Walk is held each October to support special needs students supported by the Friendship Foundation and students in our South Bay schools supported by local education foundations. Other community events include the Fall Classic Golf Tournament and the Grand View Gator Run/Walk.

What is an appropriate donation to the Annual Appeal?

Our goal is to engage all MBUSD families to participate in our Annual Appeal, since all students in the district benefit from MBEF support. We suggest a donation of $2,000 per child or ask that you consider making a meaningful gift for your family. Every gift matters and every donor is an important part of this effort.

Do I have to complete my donation to the Annual Appeal all at once?

MBEF has several options available when considering your donation. Please visit the MBEF website or contact the MBEF office to discuss the best option for your family (310-303-3342/[email protected]).

  • One-time Donation – Donate online or by mail by check or credit card
  • Pledge – You can commit to donate at some point before June 1st without having to pay at this point. By making a pledge early in the campaign, you can avoid unnecessary reminders from MBEF.
  • Installments – Donations are charged to your credit card automatically on the schedule you select. This could be monthly or on any timeline that works best for you. You can establish an installment plan through our online donation system by indicating your preference on the donation envelope, or by calling the MBEF office.
  • Appreciated Stock/Donation of Stock Certificates – You can take an immediate tax deduction for the full market value of the stock and avoid the capital-gains tax you would owe by cashing in the securities. Then, using the cash you might have otherwise donated, you can repurchase the same stock at a higher cost basis for capital-gains purposes. Click here for stock donation steps.

Does MBEF accept donations through matching gift programs?

An employer matching gift program is a corporate giving program driven by employees to support the nonprofit organizations a company’s employees are passionate. The corporation will match the employee’s donation at a specific rate, sometimes even 1:1, in honor of the employee. Many companies, almost 100, contribute to MBEF through a matching gift program on an annual basis – approximately $400K a year. Check the MBEF website for details on how to check if your employer participates in a matching gift program and the next best steps. Both the employee and the employer will be recognized for the match, in our Annual Report and Honor Roll.

California School Funding

Isn’t California per-pupil funding among the highest in the country?

The belief that California is a leader among other states in education funding is simply not true. The fact is our state provides barely enough to fund the basics — not the enriched educational opportunities that we expect for our children. Funding for California public schools has been insufficient for decades — year after year California ranks at the bottom in annual per-pupil spending and 18% below the national average. Manhattan Beach receives roughly $10,500 per pupil, putting our community at the BOTTOM of both the state and country.

What is the difference between a Basic Aid district and a Revenue Limit district?

Only a small portion of our property taxes in Manhattan Beach support education. The formula to allocate property tax dollars is based on spending levels in the 1970’s. At that time, MBUSD was a K-8 district and allocated less than 20% of property taxes to fund schools. Legislation permanently restricted this small portion of tax dollars towards education, making MBUSD a “Revenue Limit” district. As a result, local property taxes continue to represent a modest portion of MBUSD’s revenues, with the balance coming from the state. “Basic Aid” districts, such as Palo Alto and Laguna Beach, funded education at a higher level in the 70’s, so they dedicate a larger portion of tax dollars towards education and can retain the excess to supplement funding from the state.

How Does California’s Local Control Funding Formula Impact MBUSD Funding?

California implemented the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013 to focus on the following objectives:

(1) give local school districts more authority over how to spend their state funding
(2) restore districts to pre-recession (2007/08) state funding levels (adjusted for inflation)
(3) provide supplemental funding to public school districts with higher numbers of students who require additional resources

Under LCFF, districts receive a uniform base per pupil funding for every student that varies by grade level. School districts with higher percentages of students who qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program, are English Language Learners and/or are foster youth receive supplemental funding per pupil. Per the chart below, districts wherein 50% or more of students qualify for the above programs, receive as much as $4,200 more per pupil. MBUSD is among those few districts that have the LOWEST number of students who qualify for supplemental funding.

While LCFF is essential to create more equity for all school districts, the base level of education funding remains inadequate for all students throughout the state.

Why does MBUSD have difficulty balancing the district budget?

Increases in state funding have not kept pace with expenses. This challenge is not unique to MBUSD. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our economy, districts throughout the state were faced with tough decisions — two-thirds of California districts were already deficit spending and one-half had initiated layoffs before the pandemic. The growing costs of pensions, healthcare, and other mandated services are significantly outpacing school funding.

How can the local community help support Manhattan Beach public schools?

MBUSD is frequently compared to a short list of districts throughout California that have strong student outcomes. However, our per pupil funding for education is lower than other high performing districts. A district that retains excess property taxes as a Basic Aid district, has a substantial parcel tax, or has a higher level of LCFF funding has an advantage because the per pupil funding is higher per student. This equates to lower class size, improved curriculum, extensive resources, and more enrichment opportunities.

In Manhattan Beach, MBEF dollars are critical to sustaining the education that our parents expect, and that our students need to succeed. Funding from the 2018 parcel tax and other local sources, such as the City of Manhattan Beach and our Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), are also integral parts of the equation. To be clear, presently the combination of the local sources are still insufficient to fill the gap.

How can Manhattan Beach advocate for more state funding?

Both MBEF and the PTA’s have legislative committees on our Boards that advocate for increased funding for education to our local and state representatives. That said, we recognize that legislative shifts take time, and we must move forward on all fronts simultaneously. Here are three potential avenues to increasing state & local funding for our schools:

  • Increase in overall state funding. The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) has provided more equitable funding to all California schools. Unfortunately, it has not increased base funding at the same rate that expenses are rising. Since the state has recently returned to pre-recession levels under the LCFF funding structure, additional increases are unlikely. The global pandemic is also dramatically impacting the state economy, which could in turn affect state funding for education. There is concern that state funding will actually decrease in the coming months, not increase.
  • Retain a larger portion of our property taxes. To increase the portion of property tax dollars for education in Manhattan Beach, our state would have to reform how property taxes are structured. There is current legislation, Prop 15/Schools and Communities First, that proposes to re-structure property taxes in a split roll –impacting businesses owning nonresidential commercial property worth $3 million or more. The proposition exempts homeowners, renters, small businesses and agricultural land who will continue to be protected by Prop 13.
  • Increase the parcel tax. A parcel tax is a flat-tax assessed per parcel to increase revenue for educators and school expenses. Other high performing public school districts rely on one or more parcel taxes to supplement per-pupil funding, ranging from $450 to $1500, or the equivalent of an additional $10M or more in revenue. The City of Manhattan Beach has a small tax of $225 per parcel in place since 2018, which supports MBUSD with an additional $2.4M in funding each year. As evidenced with the recent budget cuts in 2020, Manhattan Beach requires significantly more funding to be able to provide the sustain the quality of our schools.

School Partnerships

What is the difference between MBUSD and MBEF?

MBEF is a non-profit organization that operates separately from the Manhattan Beach Unified School District. The MBEF is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, all of whom are parents of students in the MBUSD. The purpose of MBEF is to fund and advocate for enrichment programming for all MBUSD students. This includes ensuring that the funds we are granting are appropriately and effectively used. Like other Ed foundations, we are not involved in personnel relations, hiring, or management of district employees. We do not make any decisions on the ways in which programs are implemented or the curriculum that the district uses. Focusing on our core mission allows us to be an independent and effective advocate for MBEF-supported programs. In addition, this separation helps to maintain the autonomy of the district and Manhattan Beach Unified School Board and ensures that no individual parents’ voice is louder than others.

Does withholding a donation to MBEF impact MBUSD decision making?

There will be times when we disagree with the way in which a program or decision is made at the classroom, school or district level. We encourage all parents to express concerns and advocate for change – whether through the classroom teacher, school site administrator, district leadership or the elected school board. MBEF does not intercede with regard to curriculum, particular personnel or other matters not related to fundraising for our schools so withholding a donation won’t have the desired effect. By not donating you are only impacting the quality and breadth of educational opportunities available to all students in MBUSD.

How does MBEF differ from a PTA?

MBEF and the PTAs are vital partners in supporting the success of our schools. MBEF and PTAs collaborate closely to provide a quality K-12 education for all students districtwide. MBEF primarily supports educators and programs, and the PTAs pay for material resources at each school.

The PTA President from each school site serves on the MBEF Board as a Class One Director to provide input on MBEF decision-making. Additionally, each school’s PTA has its own board that raises and spends funds to pay for campus-specific items, such as technology, school supplies, and classroom materials. Because MBEF has a long history of providing a consistent funding stream to our district, it is the only parent organization that LA County Office of Education permits to supplement pay for teachers.

Lastly, each PTA is accountable to its own school, while MBEF provides a K-12 perspective and ensures that every elementary school in our district offers the same programs and quality of education at each grade level. Our commitment to the community is to ensure that every child in our district has equal access to high-quality educational opportunities.

How does MBEF differ from a Booster Club?

Booster Clubs are an important part of ensuring access to special interest programs and clubs at our secondary schools. Examples of programs supported by Booster Clubs include athletics, band, Model United Nations, robotics, or similar program sponsored at the school. Many Boosters request donations for student participation to cover the administrative costs of the program, such as expenses for field trips or travel, uniforms, assistant coaches or specialized assistants. Donations to MBEF ensure educational opportunities for all students districtwide. For example, MBEF funding reduces the average class size by 5 students and supports both Academic and Guidance counselors and the as College and Career Center program.

Grants for Educators and Programs

How does MBEF determine what programs and educators to fund?

Each year MBEF’s Board of Directors works with district leadership, school principals, and educators to identify programs that are most aligned with MBEF’s mission and the priorities of parents and teachers. As a community-driven organization, MBEF uses multiple measures to ensure the programs we fund meet our grant making guidelines, including surveying our stakeholders biennially, meeting with school principals and district leaders, and corresponding with stakeholders via phone, email and meetings throughout the year.

MBEF strives to invest in programs that support the following:

  • Academic excellence and personal growth
  • Programs that reach as many students as possible
  • Parity among all elementary schools
  • Programs with a K-12 perspective
  • Innovation in teaching and learning
  • Programs that align with the priorities of parents, teachers, and District goals

The MBEF Grant Committee, made up of MBEF Board Members from all seven school sites, holds multiple meetings, including several with the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of Education Services, prior to the approval of all grants. During these meetings, priorities are discussed and potential programmatic solutions are proposed. Once determined that the proposed grants are feasible and meet district goals, the Grant Committee takes the proposed grants to the MBEF Board of Directors for approval. The MBEF leadership meets monthly with the Superintendent to ensure that the implementation of the programs funded by MBEF are meeting expectations.

To ensure continuity in our schools, the vast majority of our funding is committed to continuing successful long-term grants and teaching positions. This year, MBUSD budget cuts shifted some funding away from our traditional programs to help fill the gap between what state funding provides and what education actually costs in our district. Additional funding from the virtual Manhattan Wine Auction was able to be directed towards the growing priorities of our community to keep class size reasonable and support distance learning for all students.

Can I designate my donation to be used for a particular program?

The mission of MBEF is to enhance the district’s capacity to provide superior education for all students in our schools. Instructional programs are ultimately decided by the School Board and the administration, taking into consideration the needs of the entire district. MBEF’s role is to support that effort rather than to direct it.

In an effort to increase MBEF’s funding potential to strengthen academic and enrichment programs for our students, MBEF’s Board of Directors introduced a policy encouraging donor-directed gifts for purpose-restricted programs in 2015. Directed gifts may come from an individual, family or corporation and require a minimum three-year funding commitment with a minimum total of $150,000 over the duration of the commitment. Donor-directed gifts must adhere to the following guidelines:

Guidelines for Restricted Donations:
All directed gifts must align with MBUSD goals and adhere to MBEF’s Grant Making Guidelines to ensure parity and consistency across the district. MBEF is committed to supporting grants that accomplish the following:

  • Strengthen schools from kindergarten to graduation
  • Support academic excellence and personal growth
  • Reach as many students as possible
  • Maintain parity among all elementary schools
  • Provide innovation in teaching and learning
  • Align with the priorities of parents, teachers, and district goals.

If you have questions or would like to discuss a directed giving opportunity with a member of our team, please call the MBEF office at 310-303-3342.

The MBEF Endowment

What is the difference between MBEF and the MBEF Endowment?

MBEF exists to support quality public education here in Manhattan Beach today, while the Endowment works to provide a continuing and sustainable funding source that will expand and enhance the quality of public education in Manhattan Beach, now and for generations to come. Both entities are vital for ensuring our public schools have the financial support they need.

  • Great Schools Today – MBEF
    For almost four decades, the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF) has provided critical funding for Manhattan Beach public schools because state funding is inadequate. Since 1983, MBEF’s grants to our schoolshave directed over $80M in exceptional educational opportunities for Manhattan Beach students that would not be possible without the generosity, time and commitment of all community stakeholders. Today, MBEF grants to Manhattan Beach Unified School District (MBUSD) fund educators who deliver a vast array of programs that strengthen the educational experience of our students from kindergarten through graduation.
  • Great Schools Forever – The MBEF Endowment Fund
    Manhattan Beach is one of the first communities in the nation to have established a stable, secure and self-sustaining source of funding for its public schools. Patterned after university endowments, the goal of MBEF’s Endowment is to serve as a permanent fund to enhance and stabilize the long-term growth of MBEF’s annual contribution to MBUSD. History has proven that economic uncertainties remain constant and the best way to prepare for them is through a consistent source like the Endowment.

How is the MBEF Endowment governed?

The Endowment is governed by the MBEFEF Board of Directors who are dedicated to carrying out its mission of supporting Manhattan Beach public schools with a sustainable source of funding. The Endowment Board works closely with the MBEF Board to ensure that the mission of supporting quality public education.

How has the MBEF Endowment performed over time?

As a myriad of challenges continue to impact public education in our state, the Endowment’s support will become even more crucial. Patterned after university endowments, the goal of MBEF’s Endowment is to serve as a permanent fund to enhance and stabilize the long-term growth of MBEF’s annual contribution to MBUSD. History has proven that economic uncertainties remain constant and the best way to prepare for them is through a consistent source like the Endowment. The Endowment’s Investment Committee uses a prudent investment strategy guided by an established Investment Policy to manage growth of the principle.

Endowment Growth

Are there limitations on what the Endowment disburses to MBEF each year?

The annual disbursement to MBEF is limited by the Disbursement Policy, which is in line with the prudence standards outlined in the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act of 2006 (“UPMIFA”). Briefly, the recommended annual disbursement is calculated by the trailing three-year average of the calendar year-end value of the funds. If the value is greater than $15 million, which it has been since 2017, the recommended disbursement is 5%.

MBEF established the Endowment in 1986 with an initial $10,000. It took nearly three decades before the Endowment crossed $10M and made its first distribution of $116K. Since then the Endowment has disbursed nearly $3.7M in total to MBEF towards its annual grants to MBUSD. When the Endowment reaches $20M and beyond, the annual disbursement will be at least $1M in total to our schools every year, regardless of fluctuations in the economy or priorities at the state level.

Disbursement Growth