AEF Raises $40,000 at Bright Night

It was a bright night for Arcadia students and staff thanks to the Arcadia Educational Foundation raising $40,000 at its inaugural gala.


AEF launched the year with its ”Bright Night” fundraiser at the home of Arcadia Unified School District School Board Member, Lori Phillipi. Over 250 members of the community packed the event which showcased the multitude of talents of Arcadia students. The night began with a warm musical welcome (see video below) from the Arcadia High School Pep Squad, followed by several other dazzling performances by the AHS Marching Band and a short, yet humorous, performance by the Speech and Debate team about “Whether or not you should donate to AEF.”


The AEF gala was not only an exhibit of what Arcadia built in the past, but also what our school district leaders envision for what lies ahead.


“In order for us to maintain our reputation of excellence, we have to continue to grow the district,” David Vannasdall, the Superintendent of AUSD, advocates.


When asked about what his vision for the school district was, Superintendent Vannasdall expressed the need for Arcadia to adapt to the circumstances of the unknown.


“Part of my job is staying about 5-10 years above where we are today,” divulged Superintendent Vannasdall. “Education is not going to look like it is right now in the very near future.”


One of the ideas Superintendent Vannasdall wishes to pursue is an innovative push towards more online learning.


“We’re already looking at how to bring teachers up to par on learning how to provide hybrid courses.”


In the future, students may not have to make the long trek to school or even conform to a rigid schedule. Instead, schooling would be more centered around the student and his or her needs with the use of online instruction.


Assisting greatly in the school district’s ambitious efforts is AEF. Since the district is located in a more affluent neighborhood, the State of California does not fund Arcadia schools as much as other public schools. Therefore, AUSD relies heavily on contributions from the community.


“The sole mission of AEF is to raise money to support Arcadia Schools.. [where] 100% of our donations have gone straight back to the school,” explained Hsiuchen Chen, the treasurer and trustee member of the organization. She then added, “AEF gives out 55 thousand dollars of mini-grants [annually].”


These generous grants go to teachers who qualify in the fall, so the classrooms are able to enhance the learning experience for Arcadia students throughout the year. Just this year, AEF provided $3,000 to Baldwin Stocker Elementary in order to provide each and every 2nd grader a Google Chromebook, and an additional $5,000 was donated to Arcadia High School to support on-campus projects such as the native plant garden developed by students to attain a beautiful, yet water efficient, campus. These contributions are considered small compared to the $15,000 AEF provides for the continuation of the School Messenger Program which connects the superintendent and principals with parents to provides district and campus announcements in addition to warnings of emergencies. In addition, AEF has been funding transitional counselors throughout the district and with sufficient funds, is hoping to add more counselors in the near future.

If you would like to support Arcadia schools and keep in touch with the community, please visit

By AUSD Digital Communications Interns Yiming Ye and Ashley Chen

Photos by AUSD Digital Communications Intern Michael Tseng 


More photos available here.