CHEF grants more than $66K in projects

The Cherry Hill Education Foundation (CHEF) has had one sole goal since its founding: to raise money that will directly benefit the students of the Cherry Hill School District.

This year, the organization decided to do things a little differently.

The foundation raised $66,500 for 2020 distribution. Under its new grant process, the organization is awarding each of the district’s 19 schools $3,500. Members of the foundation’s executive board were in attendance at last Tuesday’s board of education meeting to present the school district with a check.

In years past, the foundation had a competitive process in place. District employees would fill out an application, and the foundation met to determine which projects would receive funding.

This year, each school had an internal discussion about how to spend its allotted $3,500 and submitted projects for approval to the foundation. From there, the projects had to be approved by Superintendent Joseph Meloche and the board of education.

Eleanor Stofman, the foundation’s president, said moving forward, the organization will probably continue the new process of awarding the same grant amount to every school rather than funding individual projects. 

Since 2007, the foundation has awarded more than $1 million in grants, according to Stofman. In addition to the funds distributed to each school, the foundation also finances a variety of other initiatives, including shirts for freshman orientation at both high schools, an annual academic brunch for seniors, project graduation for both high schools and scholarships for graduating students. 

The foundation’s signature fundraising event is “Dancing With The Cherry Hill Stars.” Stofman noted it’s through that annual gathering that the organization raises the bulk of its funds. This year’s fundraiser is slated for June and will mark the 13th year of “Dancing With the Cherry Hill Stars.” 

Meloche said the foundation has put in an incredible amount of work year after year. He noted when he visits with the board, he’s consistently impressed by parents, former board members, current teachers, former teachers, administrators and other members of the community who have devoted themselves to fundraising for the district.

“It’s an incredible collection [of people] when I have the opportunity to visit,” Meloche said. “It’s a who’s who of people who have donated the majority of their lives … to Cherry Hill and the Cherry Hill School District.”

Stofman thanked the administrations, teachers and students for their continued support.

“When you have all of these people behind you, you just can’t not miss, and everybody is always rooting for us,” Stofman said. 

The next meeting of the Cherry Hill Board of Education will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. in Malberg Administration Building.