TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — The school year is off to a fresh start and the Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation is giving thanks to the community for its consistent support of our programs. We look forward to another successful year of fundraising as the Foundation prepares to celebrate our 25th anniversary.What began modestly as a business and education partnership has blossomed into an established non-profit foundation dedicated to enhancing public education within the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. The Foundation raises money to provide grants, resources and unique partnerships to benefit students, teachers and the overall educational community.Excellence in Education is proud that our primary fundraising efforts, including Skiing for Schools, Dining for Schools, Golfing for Schools and the Home Tour have developed into successful partnerships between the business community and the Foundation. By driving business to our excellent restaurants, mountain resorts and golf courses we are able to raise money to enhance education in our region. A thriving and successful community depends on a sound educational system and the Foundation is delighted to have contributed more than $2.4 million to the district over the past 25 years. These past two and a half decades have seen great change and growth for the Foundation. Beginning in the 1991-1992 academic year, seven grants were awarded for a total of $7,500. The Foundation has evolved and expanded allowing the Foundation to fund over $150,000 in grants and educator awards during the 2011-2012 school year.Grants are intended to fund classroom enhancements that schools are not able to finance through existing budgets. Many supplemental math and reading tools, as well as state of the art science equipment are funded by Excellence in Education. In addition, the Foundation has purchased instruments for the district's music programs, art supplies and physical education equipment such as snowshoes and cross-country skis that take advantage of our natural surroundings.Last year the Foundation funded a pilot program, iLearn, through our Innovation Grant cycle, intended to support and encourage teachers to try new programs or approaches in education. The iLearn program utilizes the iTouch to enhance curriculum and reading fluency. Some classes used their iTouches for research for their career projects while others created ‘splice projects', used Reader's Theater, and took AR tests on their devices and buddy read textbooks aloud and then discussed content with a peer.Excellence in Education was the original funder of the Harvest of the Month program which introduces seasonal fruits and vegetables to students each month. Arts for the Schools was awarded a $25,000 grant a few years ago in support of their Artist in Residence Visual Arts Program. The Foundation funded the Winter Discovery Center at Tahoe Cross Country, which provides place-based science/ski programs to students in our region. Additionally, nearly $70,000 was contributed to the school district's technology plan, which helped bring all district classrooms up to standard with basic equipment.Yet another success took place this past July when the National Civic League named the Tahoe Truckee region an All-America City based on its ambitious plan “Tahoe Truckee Reads,” designed to ensure that more children are reading at grade level. Chosen from a field of more than 120 entries nationwide, Tahoe Truckee's plan was submitted by a community coalition that included the Excellence in Education Foundation, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee, Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, Placer and Nevada County Health and Human Services and First 5. Our community was one of 14 awardees selected from 32 finalists.Heading into another school year full of promise, the Foundation's endowment is now at two million dollars and we are thankful to our partners who remain committed to helping continue Excellence in Education's efforts. Today, the organization is able to fund between $150,000 and $200,000 annually and we expect to see further growth and success in the future.We sincerely thank our tremendous community for all the years of support and we look forward to working with you to provide programs and raise money to support our students and teachers for years to come.Excellence in Education reminds everyone that Dining for Schools cards on sale now and the community is invited to join us for our annual recognition event on Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Olympic Valley Lodge in Squaw Valley. For more information about the Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation and our various programs visit www.ExinEd.org or call 530-550-7984.— Katja Dahl is an Excellence in Education board member.