IPSF gala nets $780K for school kids
The 7th annual Spirit of Excellence fundraising gala was a black tie event, and guests were dressed in their best. But unlike some charitable events, this one had a sense of fun. Rock stars (Thrice) and a nationally known comedic writer and actor (SNL alum Nasim Pedrad) brought entertainment value to it. Plus, public school students also got into the act, with Woodbridge High School’s Grammy Award-winning choir singing as well as humorous video skits from elementary-age kids. We’ll admit that we were holding our breath when the one parodying the Trump vs. Clinton campaign debates began. But it was clever, and age appropriate.
IPSF President and CEO Neda Eaton set the tone, helped introduce honorees and kept everyone engaged in the reason for the evening: keeping Irvine schools great. She reminded the crowd that IPSF, since 1996, has donated more than $63 million to support Irvine schools, and has helped some 15,000 students directly, with scholarships to enrichment programs and more.
FivePoint was presenting sponsor of the event. As part of his inspirational remarks, FivePoint Chairman and CEO Emile Haddad announced the company would continue to sponsor the event for another three years, and added an additional $100,000 endowment donation to IPSF.
The Spirit of Excellence honorees included the band Thrice. All four of its members are Irvine public school alumni. After hearing the lead singer’s thoughtful speech and the song they played, they may have a new set of fans, perhaps slightly out of the band’s usual age demographic.
Irvine’s own Will Ferrell was awarded the Spirit of Excellence in the Arts award. While the University High School grad was absent, he was present in spirit as 17-year-old Ryan Lee channelled Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy character, doing an excellent job accepting on his behalf. Speaking of accepting, Lee is also the recipient of the $10,000 IPSF Scholarship for the Arts in Honor of Will Ferrell.
The Spirit of Excellence Legacy Award was given to the Irvine Company, and deservedly so, for its dedication to education and support of IPSF. In September, the company announced it was pledging an additional $20 million to Irvine public schools over the next 10 years. That’s a renewal of the company’s initial $20 million, 10-year grant that has funded art, music and science teachers for every fourth- through sixth-grade class in the district.