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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. In its four decades of support, MBEF funding has exceeded $100 million in directed grants. 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 30 members, all of which are or have been MBUSD parents. Members of our Board represent all school sites and bring a broad range of expertise including law, 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. Please contact the MBEF office if interested in attending.

How does MBEF raise money?

There are a number of ways our community supports the MBEF 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. We appreciate participation in one or all of the ways to support MBEF 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 that 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 75% 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 prudent fiscal management, MBEF’s Endowment has grown significantly over the years, allowing for an annual disbursement from the income generated to support the annual grant to MBUSD. 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 the MBEF Endowment 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 through the Friendship Foundation and students in our South Bay schools supported by local education foundations. Other community events include Grand View Gator Run/Walk.

What is an appropriate donation to the Annual Appeal?

Our goal is to engage all MBUSD families in our Annual Appeal since all students in the district benefit from MBEF support. We suggest a donation of $2,000 per student to meet our significant investment in our schools, 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 30th 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 form, or by calling the MBEF office. All installments must be completed by June 30th.
  • 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 $450K 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. California has slowly been building its funding support of education over the past 10 years and has only recently surpassed the national average. Depending on the report, California’s per-pupil funding falls anywhere between 19th to 35th if adjusted for the high cost of living. Because of its heavy reliance on state tax revenue, California’s education funding is more volatile than other states– it falls fast during recessions and rises more quickly during economic recoveries.


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

Despite advancements in California’s education funding levels, Manhattan Beach continues to struggle, receiving over $2,000 below the statewide average before local support. Proposition 13 and subsequent rulings capped the percentage of property taxes allocated to education. Consequently, less than 20% of property taxes raised in Manhattan Beach are allocated to fund our local schools – making MBUSD a Revenue Limit district and dependent on state funding to reach the minimum target set by the state for per pupil funding. Basic Aid districts, such as Palo Alto and Laguna Beach, funded education at a higher level when Prop 13 was enacted, and therefore receive a larger portion of local tax dollars. These Basic Aid districts retain the excess property tax dollars above the state target, resulting in significantly higher per pupil funding. Converting to a Basic Aid district is a possibility, but it only occurs when the percentage of property tax dollars allocated to education in a district exceeds the per-pupil target from the state. In the case of Manhattan Beach, this will likely occur in the next 10-12 years, when local property tax revenues increase to a point where 20% is well above the state distribution. Local education leaders have advocated for changing the funding structure with the State Legislature over the years, but protecting the benefits of Proposition 13 has been a significant priority for the state.


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

California implemented the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) in 2013 to help achieve 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, local districts, wherein 65% or more of students qualify for the above programs, receive as much as $7,900 more per pupil. MBUSD is among those few districts that have the LOWEST number of students who qualify for supplemental funding. Creating equity among California students is essential, but the base level of education funding has remained inadequate for all students.

Has education funding increased over the past two years?

One-time funding from the state and federal government to combat challenges brought on by the pandemic has been primarily distributed to districts based on the Local Control Funding Formula. MBUSD has received an increase in funding directed towards specific spending categories but not nearly the same proportion that other neighboring districts have. As the state budget declines with the economy, the portion of the per pupil funding from the state will decline as well.

Why does MBUSD have difficulty balancing the district budget?

Every public school district must approve a 3-year balanced budget in March. Our community has supplemented state funding for decades, but as expenses rise and state funding flattens, the need has grown exponentially. 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 local burden to cover the growing costs of pensions, healthcare, and other mandated services is outpacing school funding.

How does support from the local community help?

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 very different from other high performing districts. A district that retains excess property taxes as a Basic Aid district, has a substantial parcel tax, or is supported greatly by 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 and choice.

In Manhattan Beach, MBEF dollars remain vital to continue to provide the education that our parents expect, and our students need to succeed. Funding from the initial parcel tax and other local sources, such as the City of Manhattan Beach and our Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), are also an integral part of the equation. Please see the California District Per-Pupil Funding Source Comparison to see the stark variation in funding among districts and demonstrates how impactful local support can be on per-pupil funding.

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 some of the priorities and the challenges we face in advocating for additional state funding:

  • 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 tied into pensions, healthcare, and other mandated services are rising. The recent increase in the state budget for school funding is either one-time to combat challenges brought on by the pandemic or directed to particular spending categories, limiting control to meet local needs.
  • Retain a larger portion of our property taxes. Converting to a Basic Aid district is a possibility, but it only occurs when the percentage of property tax dollars allocated to education in a district exceeds the per-pupil target from the state. In the case of Manhattan Beach, this will likely occur in the next 10-12 years, when local property tax revenues increase to a point where 20% is well above the state distribution. Local education leaders have advocated for changing the funding structure with the State Legislature over the years, but protecting the benefits of Proposition 13 has been a significant priority for the state.
  • Increase the parcel tax. Parcel taxes are a flat-tax assessed per parcel to increase revenue for educators and school expenses. Many California public school districts rely on one or more parcel taxes to supplement per-pupil funding. The City of Manhattan Beach has a small parcel tax of $225 per parcel in place since 2018, which supports MBUSD with an additional $2.4M in funding each year. The current parcel tax will expire in 2024 unless renewed by Manhattan Beach voters.

Why do education foundations, including MBEF, support parcel tax campaigns?

The Manhattan Beach Education Foundation was founded to ensure that all Manhattan Beach children have access to an excellent public-school education. The structural deficit in California continues to create numerous challenges for our schools – ones that MBEF alone cannot transform. The Board of Directors have voted to support all parcel tax campaigns with funding as it aligns with our mission of creating strong schools. Supporting a measure (not a political candidate) in line with this mission is not prohibited according to the Internal Revenue Code, Section 501 (c)(3). The code does set limits on legislative activities and the MBEF Board of Directors has restricted the limits further in the MBEF Strategic Plan (2014) to ensure that no more than 2% of activities are directed towards advocacy. We are proud to stand with our schools and continue our efforts to ensure that our students continue to be empowered with high-quality programs in our community schools. We support strong schools and strong community.

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 purpose of MBEF is to fund and advocate for enrichment programming for all MBUSD students, as well as ensure that the funds we are granting are appropriately and effectively used. Like all other 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. This is important because it strengthens our voice so that we advocate for programming for all students. 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 TK-12 education for all students districtwide. MBEF primarily supports educators and programs, and the PTAs pay for material resources at each school. While we can thank MBEF for our librarians, PTA pays for library books.

PTA Presidents from each school serve on the MBEF Board of Directors 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 TK-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 special interest programs and clubs at our secondary schools. Examples of programs a Booster Club would support include athletics, band, Model United Nations, robotics, or other specific program or club sponsored at the school. Many Boosters request donations by students to cover the costs of the program, such as expenses for field trips or travel, uniforms, assistant coaches or specialized assistants. These costs are specific to the administration of the program for a student’s participation. Donations to MBEF ensure educational opportunities for all students. Examples for programs supported at the secondary level by MBEF include funding to reduce the average class size by 5 students and counseling, both School and College and Career.

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, comprising 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. The current economy has allowed for a temporary increase in public funding for education, permitting MBUSD to more fully support the basic needs of students and for MBEF to return its focus of ensuring our students have access to strong, well-rounded academic and enrichment opportunities.

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 2015, MBEF’s Board of Directors introduced a policy encouraging donor-directed gifts for purpose-restricted programs that ensure they are aligned with our commitment to parity and consistency across the district. Directed gifts may come from an individual, family or corporation and we ask that the donor make 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 schools have directed over $100M 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 the mission of supporting quality public education.

How has the MBEF Endowment performed over time?

As a myriad of challenges continue to face 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 $7M in total to MBEF towards its annual grants to MBUSD. The larger the Endowment grows, the larger the annual disbursement will be to our schools every year, regardless of fluctuations in the economy or priorities at the state level.

Disbursement Growth