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.
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 a charitable, tax-exempt organization, authorized as a 501(c)3 by the IRS. We fundraise to provide tuition assistance to qualified families, in addition to the generous financial aid that Fairmont provides on its own. Because we support so many students at Fairmont Schools, many people mistakenly assume that we are part of Fairmont. But we aren’t. OCEF is an entirely separate organization, legally distinct from Fairmont. We help students attend Fairmont because we think these are hands down the best schools in Orange County. We firmly believe that as many kids as possible deserve to benefit from all that Fairmont has to offer. It is important for everyone to understand that Fairmont does not dictate our decisions. Our operations and policies are governed by an independent, five-member Board of Directors and an Executive Director. Our fundraising does not benefit the school or its owners. We are committed to helping offset tuition and other billable expenses that families incur in the course of attendance.
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 qualified students as possible. 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 long-range vision is to potentially support multiple schools in Orange County, at this point in our relatively short existence we think we can create the greatest impact by focusing exclusively on students who attend Fairmont Schools. 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. During the 2020-21 school year, OCEF is proud to have provided critical financial support to 33 students, Fairmont-wide. Beyond tuition assistance, we have significantly offset expenses for students in SJC’s Athletic Academy, its wrestling and ice hockey programs, as well as the Prep’s ASEP program, among others. As our fundraising grows more successful, we are excited to expand the range of support we are able to offer. One of our dreams is to help defray college expenses for the students we support during their Fairmont years.
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. We also ask everyone in the Fairmont community to register for Ralphs Community Rewards (following these instructions) to benefit the Foundation every time they go shopping. We are planning a Fairmont-wide opportunity drawing early in the new year, and we are engaged in discussions about holding a golf tournament early next summer. Our 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, demonstrating the socio-economic diversity of the Orange County community. Recent gifts, for example, range from as little as $20 to mid six figures. Large or small, all gifts matter, and I hope that when families are asked to support us, they will. I have had numerous parents reach out to me for more information about our work and our mission. I am always happy to answer questions.
How can members of the Fairmont community help support OCEF?
Like I said earlier, we would love for as many people as possible to sign up for Ralphs Rewards and designate OCEF as their charity of choice! Later this month we will be sending out donation requests for Giving Tuesday. We will make another gift request before year’s end. But why wait? You can give a gift right now by clicking this link. If they choose, donors can designate the campus their gift will go to, even specific programs in some cases. Gifts to OCEF are tax deductible — donors receive a tax letter and are gratefully acknowledged on our donor roll unless they opt to remain anonymous.
In the meantime, interested donors may contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 714-234-2783 with any questions, simply to learn more, or about ways to volunteer.