History of the Friends of Civic Arts Education Foundation
In 2003, the Civic Arts Education Advisory Council took action to begin creation of the Friends of Civic Arts Education Foundation. They were spurred by the issuance of the Arts Vision Task Force Report, prepared by the Diablo Regional Arts Association. Previously, grants and contributions for Civic Arts Education programs and scholarships were handled by the Diablo Regional Arts Association (DRAA). This report conceived of a revised purpose for the DRAA that focused on the performing arts and exhibitions in the Lesher Center for the Arts.
Advisory Council members with the blessing of the Walnut Creek Arts Commission began formation of a separate non-profit 501c3 charitable organization to support scholarships and programs for Civic Arts Education. These members and other dedicated volunteers created an interim board for the Friends of Civic Arts Education Foundation, led by Bee Hylinski. The Board Secretary, Sally Smith, applied for and received a Civic Pride Grant from the City of Walnut Creek to enable summer scholarships to continue for at-risk youth in the 2005 Arts, Adventures and Academics summer camp. Funds held by DRAA for the benefit of Civic Arts Education were transferred to this fledgling organization. Additional support was received with the contribution of a Model T-Ford truck and donations from a year-end appeal. With pro bono legal support from Morrison Foerster LLP, the impassioned new interim Board applied for, and received both state and federal non-profit corporation status. IRS non-profit 501c3 tax exemption was granted on February 14, 2006, backdated to July 1, 2005 to encompass 2005 contributions.
At the Board’s request, the City of Walnut Creek agreed to provide a space, desk, computer, software and phone. In 2006, the first corporate sponsor, Dutch Girl Enterprises was secured and committed 5% of gross proceeds for youth scholarships from every new valet green dry cleaning customer. Volunteers began staffing the office. At the same time, enthusiastic Events Committee volunteers began creating “Viva Arts.” On September 29, 2006, this became the signature annual event for the Foundation. Since that time support has grown and in partnership with the Clay Arts Guild, local businesses, restaurants and volunteers added fundraising has been launched. In February 2007 a part-time Office Manager was hired the Board members and other volunteers continuing to provide the majority of the needed work. In 2009 teen volunteers organized “By the Kids for The Kids” —a first-time annual performing arts fundraiser by teens and for scholarships for their peers.
The Foundation now provides over 20 summer scholarships for low income families for the 5-week Arts, Adventures Academics summer camp as well as over 50 scholarships for quarterly classes, workshops, music lessons and programs for dance and drama students and matching grant funding for school arts programs as well as program and equipment support.
Members of the Civic Arts Education Advisory Council and the Foundation have begun a Strategic Planning process. A Strategic Plan will light the way to future development of the Civic Arts Education program as this new, vital organization raises support to provide scholarships, school and youth programs and classroom and facility needs.
Revised January 13, 2010