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The Centaurian

Impact Before Name


Students in the Culver City Unified School District (CCUSD) and the district’s nonprofit, the Culver City Education Foundation (CCEF), wouldn’t be able to succeed without the help of donors like the Fineshriber Family Foundation.
The Fineshriber Family Foundation began working with CCEF eight years ago when they donated money to fund the Science Lab at El Rincon Elementary School, under former principal and current assistant superintendent Leslie Lockhart. Since then the foundation has been helping CCEF recognize the dreams and abilities of students by providing the nonprofit with grant money to establish other programs in the schools.
“They have been very inspirational in a lot of programs,” CCEF executive director Leslie Adler says about the Fineshriber Family Foundation.
Some of the foundation’s most well known work has gone without students knowing their name. Executive director Marcia Antopol says, “It doesn’t matter if people remember.”
The Fineshriber Family Foundation aren’t looking for recognition, in fact Antopol was reluctant about having this article written because it means even more publicity and what she and her team have focused on is their “impact on children” most of all, without their name being in the newspapers.
But while students throughout CCUSD may not know the Fineshriber name, they do know their impact.
The Science Lab at El Rincon was just one of the many programs that the foundation has encouraged after performing what Antopol lovingly calls their “full body scan” of projects the foundation considers. Only after hours of research into the needs and capabilities of our school district and nonprofit child oriented groups does the Fineshriber Family Foundation finally decide to donate to them. Antopol says, “We’ve done research on the need, this is something we want to invest our time and grant resources in,” and only after that decision is made, with the rest of the Fineshriber Family Foundation board, does the foundation personally pursue groups in need. The foundation funds nonprofit programs locally, nationally, and internationally.
One of Antopol’s main goals when looking for specific programs to donate to, especially within CCUSD, is the backing and support of the families, teachers, and administration who will be involved in the program to keep it going. The foundation helps start or expand a program, but the schools need to feel it is their program because only then will they be able to really own it and take it where it needs to go.
Programs like the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra in the elementary schools started this way. The Orchestra’s director and Farragut Elementary School parent Mitch Glickman had an idea to integrate music into the learning environment. He started it at Farragut and, with the monetary backing of the Fineshriber Family Foundation, it has expanded to all five Culver City elementary schools. The program has such an impact, Antopol said, that second graders will still remember the composers of classical works after coming back from two weeks of winter or spring break.
This kind of commitment to music in the schools followed into the middle school and high school with Paul Witt and Dr. Tony Spano, whom Antopol says, “We (the Fineshriber Family Foundation) are honored to work with.”
Both music teachers received several enormous donations of instruments and within weeks they had all been taken off the shelves and loaned to students who were eager to learn to play. The music programs at both schools blossomed, more performance groups have been formed, and now students are confident in competing at higher levels. More instruments are coming again after Winter Break, along with a scholarship program for music lessons.
“Kids light up” when they hear that they will now be able to play a musical instrument due to these donations, Antopol says. That’s one of the many reason the Fineshriber Family Foundation is “confident in [their] grant making to the schools [and they] can continue to do it with passion,” according to Antopol.
On top of the many music programs they have assisted in funding, the Fineshriber Family Foundation also funded Growing Great, which the foundation views as a local way to stem America’s biggest childhood epidemic of obesity and diabetes. They also fund Story Pirates, a program that teaches fourth graders in the Culver City elementary schools the basic structure of a story. Story Pirates then helps the students write stories with nonviolent heroes, to be performed at the end of each semester by professional actors.
At the end of the day CCUSD wouldn’t be able to thrive in their arts, literacy and science programs without the help of donors. The Fineshriber Family Foundation is one of the donors with the greatest impact on Culver City students, yet few know the foundation’s name because, as Antopol says, “What we’re looking for is impact. [And] we love doing it. It’s our own community, why wouldn’t we?”

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Impact Before Name