After 12 years of Leadership, Santa Barbara Education’s Executive Director will Step Aside

By Giving List Staff   |   April 12, 2022
Margie Yahyavi at the Tiny Libraries Event
Margie Yahyavi

After stewarding the Santa Barbara Education Foundation’s steady growth for more than a decade, Executive Director Margie Yahyavi plans to step down to spend more time with family and explore new endeavors.

“I’ve loved every minute of working with this organization, the program directors, the donors, the community, all of it,” said Yahyavi.

Yahyavi joined the Foundation in 2010 as its only part-time employee with annual revenues of $300,000. During her tenure, SBEF’s staff grew to five positions and an annual budget of $2.5 million, supporting 10 SBEF programs and serving as a fiscal sponsor for 14 other education programs. SBEF hosts long-running summer music programs for local students, including the much-loved Nick Rail Summer Band Camp. Yahyavi created the Get Ahead Program, a passion project that enabled high school students to earn academic credits during the summer.

While SBEF operates independently of Santa Barbara Unified, it often supports District initiatives and works closely with its leadership. During Yahyavi’s tenure, she secured funding to pilot and launch Santa Barbara Unified’s literacy intervention program for struggling readers, a grant program for teachers awarding more than $100,000 annually, and an emergency fund that provided wi-fi access for students and their families during the pandemic.

Save the date for the Hope Awards on Thursday, April 28

In addition to growing SBEF’s funding and programs, Yahyavi led advocacy for three bond and parcel tax measures resulting in $193 million in support of improved student learning and infrastructure investment for the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

“I have appreciated working with so many wonderful people in our community,” said Yahyavi, “and I value the relationships I’ve been privileged to develop with our many donors who understand the value of investing in education.”

Yahyavi leaves the Foundation in an improved financial position, with a recent $4 million bequest that will provide long-term sustainability and support. She will remain with the organization during its search for a new executive director and facilitate the transition to new leadership.

“We are immensely grateful,” said SBEF Board Chair Mat Gradias, “for Margie’s steady leadership of this organization and her contributions to the Santa Barbara education community.”

Parents and educators founded the Santa Barbara Education Foundation in 1985. Its mission is to provide and support programs that enrich the academic, artistic, and personal development of all students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. For more information, visit


Santa Barbara Education Foundation

Donate now!
(805) 284-9125
Executive Director: Pedro Paz


Santa Barbara Education Foundation (SBEF) provides and supports programs that enrich the academic, artistic, and personal development of all students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.

I have always been impressed with Keep the Beat as it fosters a love of music in children that can last a lifetime. I learned to love music when I was young and wanted to help our young folks experience that same love in their formative years.
Anne Towbes
Music Education Supporter

Helping Teachers Help Students

The agenda for the 2022/2023 school year is to close the gap and achieve more funding for Teacher Grants while focusing on literacy development and mental health. Despite the $223,000 gap that the Santa Barbara Education Foundation is currently experiencing, their diligence and thoughtfulness bear every single student in mind.

You can help countless students like Bella find their voice.

Key Supporters

Arnesen Family Foundation
Timothy and Louise Casey
Andrew and Mary Jane Cooper
Daniel and Mandy Hochman
Elaine F. Stepanek Foundation
James S. Bower Foundation
John L. Carleton Foundation
Senator Monique Limón
J.M. Lind
Superintendent Dr. Hilda Maldonado
Sara Miller McCune
Mithun Family Foundation
Mosher Foundation
Santa Barbara Foundation
Nick Rail
April Thede
Towbes Foundation
Walter J. & Holly O.
Thomson Foundation
Wood-Claeyssens Foundation
Zegar Family Foundation