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!
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!
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 email@example.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,
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!