Back to School Lunch and Awesome Awards

I Am Video from Salem-Keizer Public Schools on Vimeo.

The 2017 Back to School Lunch and Awesome Awards are Sept. 12 at the Salem Convention Center.

The annual Back to School Lunch is a benefit for The Salem-Keizer Education Foundation, supporting all of its programs and services, including Enrichment Academy, the School Supply Depot, Bazillion Books for Kids, the Annual Spelling Bee, Innovation Grants, The Crystal Apple Awards, Learning Gardens and much more.

To volunteer or get involved with SKEF, please contact us at (503) 364-2933.

Thank you to our 2017 sponsors:

Kaiser Permanente


Here is information from the 2016 Lunch and awards:

The Salem-Keizer Education Foundation announced the second round of Awesome Awards at its annual Back to School Lunch Sept. 11 at the Salem Convention Center. Master of Ceremonies Tom Hewitt, a retired educator and Crystal Apple honoree, told the stories of people, families and organizations that do whatever it takes so that every child, every day, can be awesome.

It is SKEF’s pleasure to honor the following individuals and organizations with Awesome Awards for their exemplary service and commitment to our mission of providing resources for creative and innovative programs, educating and mobilizing the community, and sustaining collaborative partnerships that support its goals.

  Umpqua Bank is a key community partner due to their investment in community engagement. Volunteerism is a part of Umpqua’s culture, and they invest heavily in the community with their time and energy. Their consistent assistance with SKEF projects and events has not gone unnoticed Just this year Umpqua Bank employees helped prepare runner bibs for thousands of children in the Awesome 3000 and gave ice cream to SKEF volunteers at an appreciation event—they did it all with smiles on their faces. They lead by example and their attitudes are contagious. SKEF is also excited to partner with them in a three-year campaign that will boost volunteer levels and increase the flanks of trained ASPIRE mentors.

  LCG Pence has taken a hands-on role in the transformation of the Starkey-McCulley building to a multi-purpose college and career readiness center that serves the entire community. As part of the construction industry, they know that the right environment is essential to learning and they have confronted the task of creating the right space in a multi-dimensional way. They were a major partner in Lemonade Day and provided a space where participants could design and build their first business. President Dave Hayes is an articulate leader, and the three-prong team of Shannon Parker, Lee Zumwalt and Kip Patterson has been an invaluable asset to SKEF’s future.

  Rick Day has been described as SKEF’s “Knight in Shining Armor.” As past president of the Construction Alliance, he advocated for the renovation of the Starkey-McCulley building and has opened numerous doors to opportunities that will lead the project to completion. With Rick, there is often no need to ask for anything; he sets out to fill a need as soon as he notices it. We’re grateful that he recruited his own employees to be involved in SKEF projects. He also has donated much of his art and jewelry collections to our annual Shoot for the Star benefit.

   Carl Harbaugh, along with his wife Lyn, is the owner of South Town Glass, a community centered glass shop focused on quality and customer service. However, here at SKEF, Carl is much more than a beloved local business owner.Executive Director Krina Lee states that Carl is one of our biggest cheerleaders. "He attends all of our events and sits in the backquietly. No one knows what a great agent of change he has been. And, first and foremost, he has been a long-standing friend and mentor." Not only has Carl been a constant supporter of KSEF, he is a significant donor for the renovated Starkey-McCully building which will hold the new Mike McLaran Center and SKEF offices. His dedication to every child, every day makes him more than deserving of this award. 

   Cathy McInnis, College and Career Readiness Coordinator, has a personal mission to make every child, every day feel valued and included. According to SKEF Executive Director Krina Lee, “if you look through Cathy’s lens, the world is a perfect place. No one is better fit to lead the charge of preparing students and families for what comes after secondary school. She has personally shown families that what they thought was impossible, is possible.” An avid runner, Cathy’s energy could also run circles around others, and she has been instrumental in the district’s ASPIRE program.

  Sixth-grade Language Arts teachers at Parrish Middle School have given new meaning to innovative approaches to learning. Two years ago, teachers Kimberly Cruikshank, Renee Ferguson, Elyse Hansen, Anna Stewart, Stephanie Whitley, Evan Wisdom and SKEF’s Learning Gardens team wanted to incorporate the garden into the classroom. Not long afterwards, they found a pathway to reach their goal and involved the community along the way. The garden at Parrish became the subject of a required persuasive essay written by the sixth-grade language arts students. The essays were then repurposed as a grant request to continue cultivating the growing garden. Neighborhood associations were soon attracted to the growing garden hype and decided to fund the project. Thanks to their willingness to think outside of the box, or in this case, outside of the classroom, these teachers found a way to make the project a relevant experience that contributed to the success of both the sixth-grade students and the garden.