AEFUPDATED, Nov. 28: The Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) asked for community support at its fall fund-raiser, Nov. 20, at Ristorante Olivio -- and it received plenty.

Supporters mingled with AEF grant recipients and guest speakers, connecting over their common interest: enriching the educational experience of Arlington Public School students.

The event raised $9,440 for the foundation, a 25-percent increase over last year. All funds raised will directly support AEF’s work supporting and advancing public education in Arlington.

The theme of the night was "Partners in Education," highlighting the partnership between the public schools, AEF and Arlington residents.

Nov. 15, 2017: FIRST-AID: $200,000 in behavioral health for public schools

AEF President Amy Speare addressed the crowd, announcing AEF’s recent $200,000 pledge and three-year partnership with the public schools to support the district’s "Safe and Supportive Schools" initiative. The first phase of the partnership will pay for the Youth Mental Health First-Aid training for 300 staff this fiscal year. The training is designed to help teachers and staff better understand typical adolescent mental health, identify the early warning signs of mental health issues, and know how to seek early treatment.

Guest speaker Sara Burd, Arlington’s new director of guidance and social-emotional learning, told attendees: "Academic performance of students who have a safe and supportive learning environment increases by 11%. This is far and away higher than any curriculum or program a district can put in place. That is the primary goal of Youth Mental Health First Aid; giving students the environment and support they need in order to thrive."

Assistant Superintendent Rod MacNeal shared his vision for improving cultural competence in the district.

"Cultural competence is not just about race," MacNeal said in a news release, “it’s also about ethnicity, gender identification and understanding our own unique characteristics. It’s about creating an atmosphere where all identities and cultures are recognized and respected."

In addition to guest speakers MacNeal and Burd, eight grant recipients showcased their AEF grants:

-- ​Thermal​ ​Imaging​ ​Cameras​ ​(Ottoson),​

-- ​Breakout​ ​EDU​ ​(Bishop/Hardy),​

-- Gibbs School​ ​planning​ ​grant,​

-- ​Code​ ​Bugs​ ​(Ottoson),

--​ ​Menotomy​ ​Preschool​ ​mindfulness,

--​ ​Makerspace​ ​at​ ​the​ ​high​ ​school​ ​and​

-- ​​Arlington​ ​High​ ​School​ ​Unity​ ​Project,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​the recipient​ ​of​ ​this​ ​year’s​ ​Dawn​ ​Moses​ ​Memorial​ ​Award.

AEF logo

AEF awards more than $100,000 in grants to the town's public schools each year. From small Innovation in Education grants to districtwide initiatives, AEF works with school administrators and teachers to fund programs, professional development, and projects that support and enrich the teaching and learning that occur in all of our schools. AEF relies solely on contributions from the community.

​For more information and to RSVP visit

This news release was published Monday, Oct. 22, 2017, and updated Nov. 28.