Foundation campaign focus is shoes for students in need – Desert Sun

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The Foundation for the Palm Springs Unified School District’s newest campaign aims to make sure that every PSUSD student in need has a brand-new pair of shoes each year. Called “Shoes N’ Smiles” provides donors the opportunity to donate increments of $45, $55 or $65 to fund individual pairs of shoes (average retail price) at the various age levels.
“We all know that 2,500 of our kids are classified as ‘homeless,’ whether they’re truly homeless, living in a car, a motel, or staying temporarily with neighbors or others,” said Foundation Director Ellen Goodman. “While fundraising priorities like musical instruments and robotics programs are still super important and a part of the Foundation’s multiyear plan, we can’t get more basic than needing shoes – and our kids do.”
As an example, Goodman recalled receiving a call in 2019 from a local tennis coach who shared that many of her kids were playing with “holes in the soles in their shoes.”  When local philanthropists and supporters Jerry Fogelson and Bea Keats heard of this need, they “took the bull by the horns have been the engine behind this,” Goodman said.
“Jerry and Bea are donating significant funds and are working directly reaching out to manufacturers like Converse and Van’s to seek direct donations, but we also want to make this something that the public can contribute to. We have hopes for it to become an annual event.”
The campaign will run through February, and plans are to distribute the tennis shoes at an event in March. To donate to the “Shoes N’ Smiles” campaign, visit
Other current Foundation initiatives include partnering with PSUSD’s Family Engagement Center on the Community Giving Day which provided holiday gifts, gift cards and other items to nearly 60 district families in need.
Another endeavor is the Foundation’s funding for mental health Wellness Centers on district campuses.
“The mental well-being of students took a toll during COVID, and PSUSD students were hard-hit, facing challenges around everything from parental unemployment to substance issues,” wrote Foundation President Mark Gauthier in a recent holiday outreach e-mail to potential donors. “On-campus Wellness Centers are providing our professional counseling staff with comfortably furnished, safe-space retreats to counsel students through stressful times. Students are far more likely to seek help if mental and emotional assistance is available on campus.”
The new Wellness Center at Nellie N. Coffman Middle School is the first Center to be funded by the Foundation.
The Foundation also funds robotics and technology education through STEAM Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) labs and makerspaces that provide hands-on experiences in new and emerging digital technologies such as working with drones, 3-D printers, e-Sports, artificial intelligence, and robotics.
“It’s all about workforce readiness for our kids,” noted Gauthier.
The Foundation’s Classroom Grants program provides funds directly to teachers for special curriculum-enhancing projects in the arts, science, math, technology, health and wellness and other areas. And the “Protect the Arts” campaign raises funds to support performing arts, visual and fine arts programs as well as music education. Proceeds from the local screenings of Musical Theatre University’s “Blame it on the Mistletoe” movie musical in local theaters and the recent red carpet premiere event at the Palm Springs Cultural Center support that fund.
To learn more about the Foundation’s projects or donate, visit, send a check to: The Foundation for PSUSD, 150 District Center Drive, Palm Springs, 92264, email or call (760) 416-8455.
Joan Boiko is the Coordinator of Communications & Community Outreach for the Palm Springs Unified School District. She may be reached at (760) 883-2701, ext. 2 or email


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