In a single hour of Saturday night's Red Apple Gala, the Park City Education Foundation raised $200,000, more than the entire event raised last year. The Red Apple Gala, the largest fundraising event of the year for the Park City Education Foundation, pulled in roughly $340,000 through its silent auction, live auction and dinner.
Attendees were dressed to the nines. In their tuxedos and evening dresses, the Park City crowds poured into the Montage Deer Valley Saturday. Women in cocktail dresses sipped on their cocktails. From the local area and the Wasatch Front, the event pulled in executives from Zions Bank, administrators from the Park City School District, Park City Council members and local business leaders.
The sold out dinner hosted more than 300 people.
"It is the largest fundraiser of the year for us," said Jennifer Billow, the Events, Marketing and Communications Manager for the Park City Education Foundation. "And that money all goes back into our grant programs."
The local nonprofit was created to raise capital to support high-impact programs working to advance student achievement," Billow said, and to inspire innovation in the school district. With three major grant programs available to individual teachers, site programs and the district as a whole, the Park City Education Foundation has provided roughly $5 million to the district in 25 years.
"We just finished awarding district grants, which covers either the entire district or several schools," Billow said. "We awarded $200,000, which includes after school programs, preschool programs, science fairs at all the schools, part of the CAPS program in the high school and Latinos in Action."
"It really is an exciting time of year, where we fund all these growing programs," she added.
At the silent auction, crowds mingled while perusing more than 200 donated items, roughly $150,00 worth of in-kind donations to the Park City Education Foundation. Attendees had 140 different packages and baskets to choose from, ranging from dinner packages with gift cards to tickets for upcoming shows at the Egyptian Theatre.
"I tried to bid on the Promontory Golf Package but I was in a head-to-head with this other guy," said Chris Infurchia, CEO of Ragnar Relay Series. " I also bid on bridge training, but lost that too. My wife won two spa packages though, clearly the better bidder."
"It was such a fun event," he added. "Everyone in Park City was there, and it made for a fantastic event.
There were people we had seen the week before and others we hadn't seen for more than a year. Everyone was there, dressed up and supporting cause."
There were also more one-of-a-kind items such as a VIP package to the Burton U.S. Open Snowboard Championships in Vail, Colo. or swimming lessons with Gold Medal Olympian Summer Sanders.
"You cannot buy that," Billow said. "We had so much great stuff from our local ski shops, from our local restaurants and business."
Molly Leavens, a student in Park City and the PCHS English Language Learners teacher Anna Williams addressed the crowd at dinner, speaking on the impact the nonprofit had on their own education and the education of their students. The live auction that followed pulled in $200,000 alone, Billow added, including a donation of $50,000 from the Brink Foundation and another anonymous donation of $25,000. Both donations were for the final live auction item, Fund a Student, where donors had another opportunity to give to the foundation.
With children currently attending Parley's Park Elementary School, Infurchia said giving back to the schools was crucial.
"I just think education is such a critical element of our future," Infurchia said. "The municipalities and government can only do so much, but we have the opportunity to positively influence our schools. Budgets aside, people make a difference."