ASDF Featured in Foundation Forward newsletter - May 2020

ASDF Featured in Foundation Forward newsletter - May 2020
Posted on 05/20/2020
Foundation Forward is an email newsletter distributed to members of the Pennsylvania Public Education Foundation (PaPEF). The purpose of this publication is to share up-to-date information and resources relevant to your role as an education foundation supporter. The Allentown School District Foundation was excited to be featured in the Foundation Forward May 2020 newsletter!

Read the full newsletter story below: 

Over the past 10 years, the Allentown School District Foundation (ASDF) has raised more than $3.5 million to support the foundation’s transformative programs serving Allentown School District (ASD) students. ASD is the third largest urban school system in the commonwealth with 25 academic buildings throughout the City of Allentown. Among other goals, the foundation aims to support after-school and summer enrichment programs; advance initiatives that promote student achievement; and provide supplementary experiences in literacy, visual and performing arts, and sciences across the district.  

The foundation provides different programs at each grade level to accommodate the varying needs of students. The foundation’s elementary school programs focus on English literacy, art and music. With students representing 50 countries and speaking 26 languages, achieving English literacy at a young age is an important priority for ASDF. During the 2018 – 2019 school year, nearly 100 volunteers visited kindergarten classrooms on a weekly basis as part of a reading program. Students also learned to think and write creatively through the I Am on a Bookshelf program. Students who participated in this program wrote their own books, which were published and put on display at a local Barnes & Noble bookstore.  

At the middle school level, students are offered a variety of programs, ranging from dance to art, history and science. Last year, during a student research day hosted at Muhlenberg College, students heard the impactful life story of a Holocaust survivor while researching the theme of Triumph and Tragedy in History. ASDF organizes programs for high school students that allows them to showcase their talents and creativity. These community events include an intra-district science fair and a choral performance.  

Students who recently moved to the United States are able to participate in visual arts and music programs thanks to corporate EITC funders. 

Some programs, such as I am on a Bookshelf and a middle school Latin dance competition, were created through the foundation’s Teacher Innovation Grants. This program, which began in 2010, provides teachers will small grants of $1,200 to fund unique educational opportunities that increase students interest in learning. In total, $143,000 has been awarded to 147 teachers since the creation of the grant program.  

The ASDF’s programs and grants are only possible because of donations and fundraising events. The foundation’s most profitable fundraiser is the annual High Notes Gala. This fundraising event brings donors together for a dinner and evening of student performances. At the 9th annual gala, 21 middle school and 104 high school students participated.  
Unfortunately, the 10th annual High Notes Gala was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After consulting attendees, the foundation was permitted to retain $104,000 in contributions from the gala. “We have been absolutely grateful to our donors who informed us that the funds secured in sponsorships and tickets could be used for our programs. We thank them and we are so appreciative,” said Susan L. Williams, ASDF’s executive director.  

Nearly 2/3 of Allentown’s students come from homes where English is the not the first spoken language. ASDF's vision is to have all ASD students reading on grade level by 3rd grade. ASDF sponsors multiple training sessions for reading programs each year. 

The theme of the 2020 gala was All in for Allentown, which intended to highlight the importance of the school district’s return to excellence for the sake of the district’s students and the city’s renaissance.  
In continued support of the arts, students who participate in the High Notes gala attend a Broadway show in New York City after their performance. Due to the pandemic, students were not able to attend this year’s performance of Frozen, but the intended funds will be escrowed for next year’s trip.  

In light of the current situation surrounding the pandemic, Williams said, “I think that looking forward to next year, the pandemic will challenge all of us to manage our resources very carefully, using them judiciously for efforts that are most necessary. Since the ASD Foundation priorities are identified based on need – science, music, literacy, teacher innovation, senior and summer camp scholarships and the visual arts – we will continue to put emphasis on these programs.”  

To learn more about the Allentown School District Foundation, visit or click here to read the full 2018 – 2019 annual report