Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

April 9, 2013

Black and Gold Gala returns for fifth year

Bart Doan

AVON — Avon Education Foundation (AEF) Executive Director Pam DeWeese says the organization is first and foremost about children, and that’s why their chief fundraiser, the Black and Gold Gala, took a year off.

But it’s back for 2013, this time in the spring. The event is set for 6 to 10 p.m. April 20 at Serendipity at Metropolis.

“What we came to realize is that while (the Black and Gold Gala) was very successful as a fall event, we also noticed that we were competing with other activities,” DeWeese said. “As an organization, we’d rather support children than compete with their activities.”

DeWeese said the gala is pivotal to the AEF’s success on an annual basis, often raising about $30,000 that goes toward 17 programs the group helps fund for the schools, including freshman orientation, which otherwise might not exist. The AEF annually funds about $68,000 in school programs.

“We have approximately 8,800 students enrolled at over 12 schools,” DeWeese said. “We are the only non-profit organization serving the educational needs of all 12 buildings. We’re highly reliant on the gala. We support and fund the programs that we do totally with donations or any money we raise from the fundraiser.”

New to the event this year will be the Mind Tripping Show, which is a comedy mind reading act. There will also be a wine pull and an AEF-version of the game show “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?”

There will again be a silent auction that includes Pacers and Colts tickets, autographed items, restaurant gift certificates, teacher trips and parties, and reserved front row seats at high school graduation.

“While it is a fundraiser, we lowered ticket prices so more couples feel like they could come,” DeWeese said. “While we currently fund about 17 programs, we’re always being asked to do a little bit more and that’s exactly why we’re here. We do it with private donations, not tax dollars, so that’s why events like this become so important to raise funds. But it’s a fun evening. You see people in your community, friends, neighbors, get to network, and have a good time.

“We know there’s a risk with changing it that we might not be quite as successful right away, but we want everyone to feel invited to come.”

DeWeese said the things the AEF does to help and the requests they get vary.

“We tend to get a lot of requests for software and software licensing,” she said. “The technology is up to date, but the instructional programs are constantly changing. You need to be able to pay for the software. We partnered with the high school because there’s a reading remediation program for students not reading at the high school level, and it’s called Read 180.

“But the software alone, the initial investment was $36,000. We paid $18,000 and we’ve continued to pay the $3,000 a year licensing fees so that software continues to remain available in subsequent years. If you want to encourage reading, you want kids to be reading chapter books at their age level. So we funded grants that were just for chapter books.”

Tickets to the Black and Gold Gala must be purchased in advance. They are available at the Avon Administration Center, 7203 E. U.S. 36, or online at avoneducationfoundation.org.

For more information, e-mail DeWeese at pjdeweese@avon-schools.org.

Just the facts

WHAT: AEF Black and Gold Gala

WHEN: 6 to 10 p.m. April 20

WHERE: Serendipity at Metropolis