Our Mission

The Visalia Education Foundation is a non-profit public benefit corporation whose purpose is exclusively educational and charitable to secure and distribute contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations for the benefit of students of the Visalia Unified School District.

   About Us

The Visalia Education Foundation is a not-for-profit founded in 1983 that has as its mission "to identify and secure resources to promote educational excellence for the students of the Visalia Unified School District." The Foundation carries out its mission through community fundraising to make available:

  • student scholarships for graduating seniors
  • teacher mini-grants for innovative classroom projects 
  • increased student access to classroom technology 
  • other educational enhancements outside the school district budget
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William Close: "America's Got Talent" Contestant - Next Education Foundation Fundraiser - September 27th

 On Saturday, September 27, 2014,  William Close a finalist on NBC Television's "Americas Got Talent",  will be performing in Visalia's LJ Williams Theater for a special fundraiser for the Visalia Unified Education Foundation. Two performances are planned at 2:00 PM and again at 7PM. More information will be coming out soon.

In 1999, William Close invented the Earth Harp, the longest stringed instrument in the world, with strings that extend up to 1,000 feet in length. He runs strings across landscapes or architecture to essentially turn them into instruments that he can then play like a cello. Close has done hundreds of Earth Harp installations around the world, from the Grand Theater in Shanghai to the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington and Burning Man in the Nevada desert. An inventor, Close has created more than 50 musical instruments.

The Earth Harp is played using violin resin on cotton gloves and musical bows. The performer’s hands are run along the strings to created beautiful cello like tones. The act of rubbing the strings creates a longitudinal compression wave.

This vibration is similar to the vibration patterns that produce tones when you run your finger around the edge of a wine glass. It is also similar to the vibration patterns created while playing singing bowls.

As William Close experimented with some of his early design concepts, he created a method of tuning the giant long strings; using a specially designed tuning block that he discovered could tune the strings to any scale. The instrument is typically tuned in an A minor scale……flats and sharps can also be included for certain installations, this is easily done by shifting the tuning block.

Since that day in 1999, William and MASS Ensemble have created hundreds of Earth Harp installations all over the world… from the Grand Theater of Shanghai to the Space Needle in Seattle, each installation is unique to its own environment. An Earth Harp installation celebrates the architecture and landscape of its surroundings. The environment and architecture are transformed by the strings, forever changing the perception of those lucky enough to see the installation.

 CLICK HERE to watch a YouTube video from America's Got Talent.

William Close's audition on America's Got Talent consisted of playing music on an earth harp, an instrument invented by him that features many thirty-foot long strings. Howard Stern, Sharon Osbourne, and Howie Mandel all voted "Yes," sending him to the Vegas Round.
Close was one of only three acts (the other two being David "The Bullet" Smith and Olate Dogs) to advance straight to the Quarterfinals without auditioning in Las Vegas.
His Quarterfinals performance consisted of playing the earth harp to "Love, Reign O'er Me." He received enough votes to be sent to the Semifinals instead of Sebastien "El Charro de Oro" and Unity in Motion.
William Close's Semifinals performance consisted of performing Muse's "Starlight" with the earth harp and a variety of different self-made instruments such as a suit resembling a violin.

CLICK HERE to learn more about William Close and the Earth Harp at his website.
1.1 MB
 to download sponsorship packet for William Close Earth Harp


Visalia Education Foundation announced the recipients of major grants to nine Visalia Unified School District programs at nine schools totaling almost $20,000.

The VEF major grant program  is available to Visalia Unified teachers and staff for creative and innovative projects related to music, the arts and science or that support the standards-based curriculum. The foundation has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to VUSD programs.

The amount of money disbursed each year varies, depending on the number and quality of grant requests and availability of funding.

The grants are available to all teachers, staff, department heads and administrators to fund programs that benefit students if funding is not available through regular school sources.

            Recipients of the 2014 grants are:

     Fairview Elementary School, teacher Tootsie Rogers, in the amount of $1,200 to develop a school cafeteria garden.

     Goshen Elementary School and teacher Dave Card $740 for equipment used in their ongoing “Morning News” program.

     Hurley Elementary School, requested by principal Stephanie Gendron, in the amount of $2,100.23 for equipment to create a science lab.

     Veva Blunt Elementary School and principal Doug Cardoza, $3,000 for performance risers.

     Divisadero Middle School and Proteus coordinator Trinidad Rodriguez, $950 for after-school nutritional workshops in partnership with the Wittman Village Community Center.

     Green Acres Middle School and teacher Bob Kersey, $1,500 for equipment to be used to develop curriculum for Web page, graphics and video production.

     Mt. Whitney High School and teacher Paulo Aguila, $4,000 to replace equipment for the video production course.

     Redwood High School, teacher Mike White, $981.32 for student remote clicker and software.

     Visalia Charter Independent Study, teacher Ed Campos, $5,500 for a mobile music studio.

(Pictured from left to right)   Front Row:  Laura Pace (VEF Board Member), Vicki Porter (VTEC)

Back Row: Dr. Marroquin (RHS), John Davis (Oak Grove), Jeff Hohne (MWHS), Adolfo Reyes (SHS), Rick Hamilton (GWHS), Julie Berk (Linwood), Rosa Montoya (Four Creeks), Susan Wallace-Sims (Golden Oak)

VEF 2013 Mini Grant Recipients Announced

The Visalia Education Foundation (VEF) would like to congratulate the 2013 VEF Mini Grant recipients.  VUSD staff and principals applied for and received a Mini Grant to cover all or a portion of the expenses for their school project(s).

 Nancy Shelton - $500 
Oak Grove Elementary School
Project:  7th Grade Exploring Orienteering
Challenging outdoor activity using a detailed topographic map and compass to navigate through terrain.  This develops critical thinking skills and increases physical fitness.
•  Cynthia Zylstra - $500

El Diamante High School
Project:  Special Ed Life Skills
Provides "Days to Apply What We Have Learned"  Students have the opportunity to go out into the community to visit and participate at a grocery store, restaurant, using local bus transportation.
  Neils Burgess - $500
Sequoia High School
Project:  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Club
This sport provides an excellent energy outlet in a structured, supervised and safe setting which allows students from challenging backgrounds to see the direct connections between applied focus and results.
•  Donald Thornburg - $500
Visalia Early College High School
Project:  Aquaponics Pilot Project
Aquaponics is a food production system using one or more aquatic animals and the water to grow crops without soil.  Addresses areas of future concern, shrinking ag areas, constant need to enrich roil and limited water supply.
•  Gayle Bingaman - $500

Four Creeks Elementary
Project:  Garden Club
Students will plant flowers to beautify the campus and raise a variety of vegetables in three raised garden containers while learning about soil, plants, measuring, drawing and noting details of observation in class.
  Ed Campos, Jr. - $500
Visalia Charter Independent Study
Project:  Mobile Movie Studio
Accessories that will enable students to transform iPads into mobile movie studios, where students can film, edit and publish professional grade high definition quality video for various projects
•  Zachary Morton - $450

Sequoia High School
Project:  Cross Country Team
First ever at Sequoia, this program will influence students to adopt healthy habits, improve self-discipline, and increase accountability to themselves and their team.
•  Steven Post - $479.95
Redwood High School
Project:  Roboticists for Tomorrows Job Market
Robotics has grown into a full-time discipline in which universities award engineering degrees in Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Engineering.  These materials help our students learn and compete in these areas.
•  Lori Irvine - $335

Linwood Elementary School
Project:  Friday Science Club
4th - 6th grade students meet on Fridays in three-week sessions to ask questions about science concepts and then seek their own answers through scientific experimentation
  Tina Mitchell - $350

Four Creeks Elementary School
Project:  Kindergarten Writing/Science:  
Provide Kindergarten students with opportunities to write about science through concrete experiences, informative text and technology and is tied to the Common Core Standards in writing and science
•  Erik Johnson - $400
Golden Oak Elementary
Project:  Bluegrass Band Instruments
Bluegrass band is ready to grow, instruments are needed including two mandolins.  This will allow more students to participate and learn how to play traditional American music by ear.
•  Josette Hendrick - $400

Linwood Elementary
Project:  Where I Am From
Using digital cameras students will tell their story, think creatively and engage in issues that are important to them, their community and the world.

All together VEF awarded $5,414.95.  VEF Board Member Laura Pace announced winners and presented the Mini Grant check(s) to school principals (see photo above) at the regularly scheduled December 4, 2013, Principals Meeting. 

Warren Miller's Ticket To Ride a Big Success!

The Sequoia Ski Club and the Visalia Education Foundation joined together to   present Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride, the 64th installment of Miller's acclaimed series featuring worldwide skiing adventures. The film was screened on November 7, 2013,  at the El Diamante High School Theater Visalia to over a hundred viewers. The proceeds of a little over $1000 from the event were generously shared by the Ski Club with our Visalia Education Foundation. 

This feature-length film took filmgoers on an exciting voyage to the top of the steepest peaks and to the depths of the freshest powder of Iceland's Troll Peninsula, Greenland, the Alaskan Tordirillos, Montana's Big Sky country and more.

Ticket To Ride explores the close relationship between humans and our vast natural environment, as the sport's best skiers and snowboarders take an action-packed journey across the globe to shed light on the significance of being aware of your surroundings.  

The film's exhilarating scenes surely got skiers and snowboarders excited about the coming season. To watch a short trailer of Ticket to Ride CLICK HERE.

This screening was exclusive to the area through the sponsorship of the Sequoia Ski Club. We wish to express our appreciation to the club for their generosity. 

Visalia Band Showcase Held On October 7th

Once again this year, the Visalia Education Foundation sponsored the eleventh annual "Band Showcase". The Band Showcase provides an opportunity for high school bands to introduce their upcoming half time shows to family, friends, and the Visalia Community. Each school's cheer and dance teams also participated. The event took place at the Groppetti Community Stadium located on the Golden West campus.

The fun-filled evening featured great music and entertainment along with tasty concession stand food and drinks. Proceeds from this event will help fund the many programs of the Visalia Education Foundation. For more information and to see a copy of this year's poster, click the "Band Showcase" tab on the right hand side of this page.

Visalia Education Foundation Honors Ken Lange

The Visalia Education Foundation and the Visalia Unified School District School Board joined together in honoring long-time Tulare county resident Ken Lange on April 23, 2013 at the regular board meeting of the Visalia Unified School District. Mr. Lange was honored for having spent a considerable amount of time and his own money, donating new and used musical instruments for use by Visalia Unified students. 

Libby Romani, Coordinator of Music Programs for Visalia Unified and an Education Foundation Board member, introduced Mr. Lange as having an interesting hobby - giving kids and schools instruments. She shared “If we are short an instrument we can always call him and he will start scrounging.”

Marilyn Gong, vice chairperson of the Visalia Education Foundation, in presenting the award noted that the award she helped present was “long overdue”. Mrs. Gong went on to state that “Ken’s love for music and his goal to help kids play musical instruments is like nobody else. He has been so generous over the years in donating instruments to any area schools that have the need. He does this straight from the heart with no benefits to himself.”

Visalia Unified School Superintendent Dr. Craig Wheaton presented a plaque and certificate of appreciation by the school district and the Board of Education. Dr. Wheaton stated that it was “a tremendous opportunity” to present the award “for all of your contributions to the students of the Visalia Unified School District.” Dr. Wheaton also acknowledged the members of the Education Foundation and thanked the organization for their partnership in supporting the students of Visalia Unified. 

Mr. Lange first moved with his family to Tulare in the 1930’s. The family started a very successful business now called Lange Plumbing Supply. In 2007, their company was named the Tulare Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year.

Mr. Lange’s generosity has been felt not just in Visalia and Tulare, but all over Tulare County. A recent news article recognized Ken for donating over 50 instruments to Traver School. Ken and other members of the Lange family have a long history of giving to others. Ken is also active in community musical groups, as well as the free concerts that are held every Wednesday night during the summer at Zumwalt Park in Tulare. 
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