Santa Barbara Education Foundation Brings Hope to Students by Raising $150,000

By Giving List Staff   |   May 6, 2022
Sara Miller McCune with Blaise Simqu

On Thursday, April 28, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation hosted the Hope Awards to celebrate individuals and programs supporting students in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. 

The first in-person Hope Awards in three years raised a record of over $150,000 in funding for the Santa Barbara Education Foundation to continue making a positive impact on SB Unified student outcomes. 

Over $65,000 of the raised funds will go towards We Care, a partnership between the Santa Barbara Education Foundation and the Santa Barbara Unified School District that supports students, families, and staff as they face ongoing and unexpected challenges brought to light by the pandemic. The program ensures that students of families who are struggling have the tools they need to attain successful academic outcomes. 

Although the purpose of the event was to celebrate the work of Sara Miller McCune and Frank Stevens for their long-time support of public education, it also highlighted students throughout the evening. Dos Pueblos High School students Devin Ross and Isabella Valentine served as emcees. A performance by the Santa Barbara Junior High School Jazz Band kicked off the festivities, and culinary arts students from Santa Barbara, San Marcos, and Dos Pueblos high schools served a variety of salads, savory treats, and desserts.

Honoree Frank Stevens has been an educator and advocate for public education since 1960, when he started as a student teacher and soon transitioned to counseling at the then newly opened San Marcos High School. 

He first became involved with the Santa Barbara Public Education Foundation when he received a grant from the organization. Frank then volunteered to help where needed most, until he became a board member and eventually president. Since his retirement in 1995, he has been volunteering even more of his time by serving on boards and holding leadership positions for various organizations supporting public education. 

Frank Stevens
SB Junior High Jazz Band

When accepting the award, he made it very clear that despite his career and involvement in a lengthy list of education advocacy organizations, his family was his job, and education has always been his hobby.

Honoree Sara Miller McCune’s philanthropic support of the community is well-documented. A life-long entrepreneur and philanthropist, she has consistently advocated for access to quality education, literacy, and the arts. 

In her acceptance speech, McCune was grateful for the award but acknowledged that there is still much work. “I want to encourage you to continue working for and keeping in your heart this school district.” 

McCune then acknowledged that just over half of the students in Santa Barbara Unified are currently living below the poverty line. “Let’s not forget that! It shouldn’t be this way, and we need to help turn it around.”

SBEF also wishes to recognize and thank Hope Award sponsors, including Pillar Sponsor: SAGE Publishing; Visionary Sponsors: Griffith and Thornburgh, Mechanics Bank, and Raymond James; Ambassador Sponsors: Atkinson, Andelson,  Loya, Ruud & Romo, KBZ Architects, Santa Barbara City College Foundation, RHS Construction, Santa Barbara Historical Museum, and Union Bank; Champion Sponsors:  Ablitt’s, Arlington Financial Advisors, Cottage Health Systems, DA Davidson, M.F. Strange & Associates, Mark Watson Professional Fiduciary, Montecito Bank & Trust, Montecito Journal, Pueblo Radiology Medical Group, Smart & Final, and UCLA Health.

Santa Barbara Education Foundation promotes private support of Santa Barbara’s public education system, serving over 14,500 students in 19 schools. For more information, visit


Santa Barbara Education Foundation

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(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.

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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.

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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