Since our inception in 1953, Fairmont has been committed to making our outstanding educational experience accessible to as many students as possible. Building upon this long-standing tradition, we have proudly partnered with Orange County Education Foundation (OCEF), a like-minded organization which understands the tremendous impact a quality education can have on a child’s life.
Recently, we sat down with Seth Bass, OCEF Executive Director, to learn more about his organization’s important work.
Who is Orange County Education Foundation (OCEF)?
OCEF is approved by the IRS as a 501c3; that means we are a charitable, tax-exempt organization. We have a five-member Board of Directors and an Executive Director.
What is the mission of your organization?
We are driven by a core belief that all children deserve the best education available, and that socio-economics should not be a limiting factor. OCEF is committed to funding the education of as many financially disadvantaged students as possible at premier independent schools in Orange County, CA. Our goal is to set students up for future success in school and in life, and to empower them to become ethical leaders in an increasingly complex and diverse world.
Who does OCEF support?
While our goal is to eventually support multiple schools, due to our young age and limited financial capacity, at this point in time we have selected Fairmont Schools as the exclusive beneficiary of our resources. We are impressed by Fairmont’s academic prowess as well as its focus on the whole child. OCEF is proud to offer aid that reduces a student’s expenses in a variety of ways, including tuition, fees related to specialized programs, athletics, after-school care, books, uniforms, etc. Without exception, our aid directly benefits only the student and never the school itself.
How does OCEF accomplish its goals?
We solicit a variety of contributions including major gifts, annual gifts, and one-time gifts from a wide range of donor types. Our generous supporters include members of the general public; local businesses; employees of Fairmont Schools; all Directors of the OCEF Board; friends of Fairmont Schools; Fairmont Schools parents; and Fairmont alumni. The capacity of our donors varies greatly, reflecting the socio-economic diversity of the Orange County community. All gifts are received with equal gratitude, regardless of size, in amounts running the gamut from single digits well into five figures.
Can you share about some of OCEF’s successes?
Of course. Here are just a few examples which help convey the “heart” behind the work we do at OCEF.
We recently provided funding to allow the continued enrollment of two students, as well as the new enrollment of a third, at one of Fairmont’s campuses. Despite Fairmont Schools’ generous financial aid awards, a gap of several thousand dollars per student remained. The students appealed to OCEF. After verifying all required tax and financial aid documents, OCEF determined that the students’ needs were aligned with our mission and we were able to provide the necessary aid.
As part of a fundraising campaign called Erika’s Wish, OCEF donor George Peletis made a designated gift in his deceased daughter’s memory. This gift was intended to help fund the education of students enrolled in Fairmont Prep’s Advanced Science & Engineering Program (ASEP). In accordance with Mr. Peletis’ wishes, OCEF awarded ASEP program fees to seven financial aid recipients, supplementing their Fairmont Schools awards, and lessening the financial burden placed upon these students and their families.
OCEF was also proud to sponsor the SJC Merit Scholarship Competition in San Juan Capistrano. Generous scholarships were awarded to two new middle school students who demonstrated the potential to make significant contributions to SJC through excellence in academics, leadership, co-curricular activities, and service.
It’s our fervent desire to create life-changing opportunities like these for many more Fairmont students.
How can members of the Fairmont community help support OCEF?
The work of OCEF is made possible through supporters who want to help fund the education of deserving students. Gifts to OCEF are tax deductible — donors receive a tax letter and are gratefully acknowledged. They are accepted year-round, with increased emphasis at traditional philanthropic milestones, including National Giving Day on December 1, 2020.
We will be launching a new website soon where donations can be made online. In the meantime, interested donors may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.