MUSF Impact Report

Learn more about your MUSF. The following includes info on the programs we supported last year, where our money went and what we have in store for the 2022-23 school year.

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Mustang Fund

Our children have an unparalleled experience here at MUS not only because of the school's comparatively high level of public funding, but also because of your donations to the Montecito Union School Foundation (MUSF). This partnership between public dollars and your donations means that we have and retain amazing teachers and staff, safe and beautiful facilities, and enriching experiences that would not be possible without you! This letter shares with you our successes over the last few years, and comes with a vast amount of gratitude for your contributions!

Nature Lab Rendering
Nature Lab Rendering

MUSF started planning the “adjacent property” in the 2018-2019 school year with a team of outside experts and an MUS design team made up of teachers and parents. In 2019-2020 the dream they started became a reality, as we used the Strategic Plan dollars to demo the house on the adjacent property and graded the land to make way for Nature Lab. In 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, thanks to generous donations, we had a flurry of activity (even through Covid!);  we built the Joffrey Bridge, Hyatt House and Peus Grove, Bird & Bear Orchard and Building Block, the Veg-Ete Garden and Casa Del Sol Greenhouse, Mustang Corral, Cluckingham Palace, the 3 C Joffrey Tree, and more! All of these spaces were made possible by donations to MUSF through Mustang Fund, Naming Rights, and additional funds raised by our events throughout the year.

With support from your generous donations to the MUS Foundation between the Fall of 2018 and the Spring of 2022, we realized the vision for Nature Lab. Nature Lab now invites learners to imagine, build, and get messy in nature as they care for the planet and one another. We have done this by creating an experiential outdoor ecosystem that supports and complements our children's learning in the classroom. Nature Lab has already provided our children with new opportunities to design, build, test  hypotheses, measure, explore scientific and mathematical concepts, create art, and learn about the complex interactions of the natural word. It’s also a terrific place to simply read in the outdoors, host a book talk, listen to a guest speaker, and much more! Nature Lab is used every day by our children.

Nature Lab has been our Strategic Grant and STEAM Grant to the school for the last three years. In addition to these grants, we also give additional grants to MUS that you will see on the pie chart on the next page. The money to fund programs such as Sowah, the school play, Artists and Poets in Residence, is raised each year through a combination of events, such as Gala, Carnival and Move-a-thon. We had an incredibly successful year of events in 2021-2022 with Carnival kicking off the year bringing in $62,000, the Move-a-thon raising $25,000, and the “Help them Bloom” Gala last year netting $170,000! We have amazing volunteers who deserve our sincere gratitude for running these important events for MUSF! We have also been working with a local grant writer for the last year to complete specific projects at Nature Lab such as the Living Fence and the Hahn Art Pavilion. We are proud to report that we raised an additional $100,000 in Grant Funding last year for projects across Nature Lab to continue to evolve this space!

Because we exceeded our fundraising goals for last year we were able to move forward with our project under the Collaboratory (Solar Structure) that we have been planning and developing with MUS Staff and Administration. The Outdoor Learning Pavilion broke ground in Summer 2022, and has been built using reserve funds from prior years of MEF/PTA fundraising, as well as the Strategic Plan funding from the 2021-2022 school year. This area features four outdoor learning counters with sinks, electrical outlets, and WiFi that will enable science experiences, the cleaning and preparation of Nature Lab-grown fruits and vegetables, particularly fun and messy art projects, and much more. As a part of this project, water, electric, and sewer lines were run throughout Nature Lab,  supporting the Outdoor Learning Pavilion and the Bathroom that the MUS District will be paying for and installing this spring!

MUS Students Learning at the Nature Lab
MUS Students Learning at the Nature Lab
Cluckingham Palace at Nature Lab

We expect full completion of the Outdoor Learning Pavilion by December of this year. Naming rights are available for the Outdoor Learning Pavilion and multiple other projects we are currently designing. If your family is interested in naming rights at Nature Lab at varying donation levels, or know of Foundations or other entities that would be interested in receiving grant applications from MUSF, please contact MUSF VP Carolyn Fitzgerald at fitzgerald.carolyn@icloud.com.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support of the Montecito Union School Foundation. We are incredibly lucky to be at a public school with a space like Nature Lab, daily school programs, and a staff who care about our children and are always looking for areas to improve. On a more personal note, I feel very fortunate to be able to work on these projects and organize school events with the Foundation board. The board is filled with parent volunteers who dedicate an incredible amount of their time. We also have a generous volunteer base of parents who give their time to plan our School Programs, Community and Fundraising events, as well as helping with these events and programs each week. Thank you for your time making this a wonderful school. As our school song reflects "Heart to heart, Hand in hand, here we are, Mustangs standing tall" we are a strong community together, and I can't wait to see what else we accomplish for our kids!

All my Best,
Tara Fergusson
Tara@MUSFoundation.com

If you have questions about volunteering, becoming more involved with the MUS Foundation, or just want to chat, please reach out to me anytime. I would love to hear from you!

Budget 2022-23

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The Montecito Union School Foundation (MUSF) was founded in 2018, when MUS PTA and the Montecito Education Foundation (MEF) combined to form a PTO. Our mission is to enhance academic and STEAM programs, enrich the student experience with technology, curriculum, and improved classroom resources, as well as organize staff appreciation throughout the year. In past years, the combined commitment (PTA and MEF) to our school has been over $300,000 per year. Our primary goal is to improve upon this every year, while increasing parent participation to 100%. We cannot do this without you!

As a PTO, MUSF organizes and runs all School Programs at MUS, such as Running Club, Art at Lunch, Garden Club, Nature Club, MUS Gear, Staff Appreciation Luncheon, Lounge Fairy, and any other volunteering the school needs.

We also fund and find chairpersons to organize and run MUS Community Events such as Pancake Breakfast, Enchanted Evening Dance, Back-to-School Picnic, 6th Grade Graduation Party and Reception, STEAM night, and the MUS Carnival. These events are geared towards building our MUS Community by bringing parents and families together.

MUS asks for the Foundation to Grant specific dollar amounts for places that need a little extra help. This includes grants to cover the replacement of Library materials, Arts and Music contributions, discretionary funding for teachers and specialists for their classrooms, STEAM specific projects at Nature Lab and in the iLab such as the laser cutter purchase, Sowah African Drumming Experience, and the School Play.

Lastly, as a Foundation, MUSF works with the administration of MUS on an annual basis to determine a Strategic Plan for the year. In other words, what large project MUSF can raise money to build now which will impact families currently at the school. Mustang Fund is the monetary campaign run annually that funds the Strategic Plan. The Mustang Fund for 2022-2023 is officially launching today, please find more information on the back of this prospectus!

Programs MUSF Supports

The following are just a few of the programs MUSF supports thanks to the support of our parents.

<p>For 16 years, parents like you have supported an African drumming residency with Sowah Mensah. Upper grade students become the performers and the entire student body becomes the audience. The performance is always filled with singing, drumming, joy, pride, and gratitude. Students are consistently moved by the experience they create as they perform on traditional African drums using various traditional rhythms.</p>

Sowah Drumming Experience

For 16 years, parents like you have supported an African drumming residency with Sowah Mensah. Upper grade students become the performers and the entire student body becomes the audience. The performance is always filled with singing, drumming, joy, pride, and gratitude. Students are consistently moved by the experience they create as they perform on traditional African drums using various traditional rhythms.

<p>MUS strives to bring a love of reading to each of our children, and MUSF is an important part of that as we donate money each year to renew and replenish the books in the library. With your help, we ensure that each student has books to check out that excite, inform, and inspire!</p>

Library Fund

MUS strives to bring a love of reading to each of our children, and MUSF is an important part of that as we donate money each year to renew and replenish the books in the library. With your help, we ensure that each student has books to check out that excite, inform, and inspire!

<p>MUSF coordinates volunteers who run amazing lunchtime programs for our kids. Art at Lunch provides an art project for the kids where parent volunteers can come on campus and help lead them through the craft. Garden Club provides an opportunity for children to get messy in the garden with a project designed by MUSF parent volunteers and Sammy Simon. Nature Lab invites children into the Nature Lab to work through different stations of activities staffed with MUSF Volunteers. Running Club is another favorite, a before school activity to get kids moving on the track, run by MUSF and Rusty Ito. It’s one of the most special parts of MUSF that affects your kids daily!</p>

Lunchtime Activities

MUSF coordinates volunteers who run amazing lunchtime programs for our kids. Art at Lunch provides an art project for the kids where parent volunteers can come on campus and help lead them through the craft. Garden Club provides an opportunity for children to get messy in the garden with a project designed by MUSF parent volunteers and Sammy Simon. Nature Lab invites children into the Nature Lab to work through different stations of activities staffed with MUSF Volunteers. Running Club is another favorite, a before school activity to get kids moving on the track, run by MUSF and Rusty Ito. It’s one of the most special parts of MUSF that affects your kids daily!

<p>Once a month, MUSF volunteers organize a “Lounge Fairy” day where we fill the staff lounge with treats. It’s a bright part in the day to say the least! Once a year, MUSF parent volunteers organize a Staff Appreciation Luncheon to formally thank our amazing staff members during Staff Appreciation week!</p>

Lounge Fairy and Staff Appreciation

Once a month, MUSF volunteers organize a “Lounge Fairy” day where we fill the staff lounge with treats. It’s a bright part in the day to say the least! Once a year, MUSF parent volunteers organize a Staff Appreciation Luncheon to formally thank our amazing staff members during Staff Appreciation week!

<p>The MUS teachers are truly skilled at teaching writing, and MUSF plays a part to enrich that experience even more by bringing in professional poets and speakers who lead students through a series of exercises to become adept poets and speakers. MUS student poems have been collected in several different collections and poetry books, and each student comes away with an authentic publishing experience as professionals help them edit and perfect their pieces.</p>

Poets and Artists in Residence

The MUS teachers are truly skilled at teaching writing, and MUSF plays a part to enrich that experience even more by bringing in professional poets and speakers who lead students through a series of exercises to become adept poets and speakers. MUS student poems have been collected in several different collections and poetry books, and each student comes away with an authentic publishing experience as professionals help them edit and perfect their pieces.

Some of the best and most impactful experiences here at MUS are made possible by MUSF. Students would not drum along with Sowah without MUSF. They wouldn’t play on the Chimes Playground, run on the track, or learn from poets in residence without MUSF. Because of you, students joyfully create masterpieces with the help of parent volunteers at Art at Lunch, have new books to read in the library, dance without inhibition at the Enchanted Evening, and have excellent tools to use selected by their teachers. Parents are more connected with the classroom because of the MUSF room parents, and the staff is treated to “Lounge Fairies” and is made to feel so valued. And without MUSF, Nature Lab would simply be a dirt field around a house that students weren’t permitted to enter. With MUSF, it became a place for exploration, design, and reflection in nature. MUSF positively impacts our students each and every day, and I could not be more grateful!

Students learning about their food at Nature Lab
Students learning about their food at Nature Lab

We now have an opportunity to again partner together in a way that will positively affect all our current students as well as future students here at MUS.  We are  collaborating to bring a full preparation kitchen to MUS! For years now, parents have asked for higher quality meals for our children. Though we were grateful for the free breakfasts and lunches offered by the school's previous provider, many of us still sent our kids to school with sack lunches. Many of us wanted more organic produce and choices that were more nutritious. Some wanted options for vegetarians or those with allergies. All of us wanted high-quality and delicious food for our kids.

This year, the school partnered with NuCuisine, and the improvement has been incredible. The school is now serving 180- 220 lunches a day, whereas last year the school often served less than 80. We’ve been phenomenally successful and we appreciate that the school listened.

With your help, we can do more! We still would prefer the hot selections to be truly "hot off the table" and not just warm, with lunches served directly to the students. Additionally, though the "clam shell" containers and utensils are compostable, we can have real plates and utensils which are better for the environment and our kids' eating experience. And we'd love to move towards a more "farm to table" experience, especially now that Nature Lab is growing so much produce right in our own backyard.

The obstacle is that MUS does not have a kitchen. NuCuisine, or any other provider, is forced to cook at an off site kitchen, and then serve through a "grab and go" method. The school is not permitted to cook on site; they can't even wash a dish on site that is used for school lunches without a kitchen!

Kitchen Ideas for the new MUS Kitchen
Kitchen Ideas for the new MUS Kitchen
Kitchen Ideas for the new MUS Kitchen

With your help, we can start working to design a kitchen for MUS. We plan to work with architects, experts, parents, and staff members to create a kitchen that will bring the school breakfasts and lunches up to the highest standards anywhere! Moreover, we can use this new kitchen as another educational opportunity, allowing students to learn more about nutrition, agriculture, and the science of food.

MUSF has an enviable track record of getting things done on budget and on time. You brought the shade structures at the blacktop to the school, funded impactful professional development in literacy and mathematics, and created opportunities for each child to find their niche through the Garden Club, robotics, laser cutters, the Nature Lab Club, and STEAM Night. With the continued support of MUSF, we will realize this vision for a kitchen!

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