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MBEF Wine Auction Raises Record $1.8 Million

Jun 08, 2017 03:22PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
It was a night of fine wine, good friends, and high spirits on Saturday, June 3 at the 23rd annual Manhattan Wine Auction, which raised a record total of nearly $1.8 million for the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF).

The event, held at the Manhattan Country Club, drew approximately 2,000 guests and featured tastings from 40 local restaurants as well as beverages from than 70 wineries, breweries, and distilleries. The event is MBEF's largest fundraiser of the year, with monies going to support the Manhattan Beach public schools.

This year the online auction opened to the community prior to the event, leading to a new silent auction high of over $200,000. Additionally, the live auction raised $332,000, with exclusive high-end packages including a weekend in New York with a VIP Saturday Night Live experience, a trip to The Masters, and an exclusive Napa Valley culinary weekend hosted by famed local Chef David LeFevre and Robert Allen of Sherry-Lehmann.

Overall, the event proceeds increased by over 35 percent, much of which MBEF attributes to the outstanding response to this year's Paddle Raise to help kick off MBEF’s campaign to grow the Endowment to $20M by the year 2020. When the endowment hits the $20M mark it will distribute $1M each year to support Manhattan Beach schools.

“This consistent funding source will relieve some of the pressure on our Annual Appeal fundraising. It is challenging to grow the Annual Appeal to meet the increasing costs of enrichment programs. A stronger endowment is tremendously helpful,” said MBEF Board President Remco Waller.

Endowment President Mike Duckworth noted, “It took us 27 years to build the endowment to $10 million, the point at which we made our first disbursement. In the last four years, the endowment has grown from $10 million to $15 million, and distributed almost $1 million to our schools. Now we are experiencing the power of the endowment. It is our responsibility as a community to carry on the vision started 30 year ago.”

At the event, a total of 130 donors raised their paddles to support the endowment campaign. Guests donated over $830,000 toward the effort, including $100,000 gifts from Joanne and Jim Hunter, and Michelle and Cyrus Hadidi. $50,000 donations were received from Chevron, the DeWitt Wilson Family, and Laurie and Tom McCarthy. MBUSD Board members and City Council representatives raised their paddles, as did 100% of MBEF’s 35-member Board of Directors.

Following the event, Wine Auction Chair Roger Spencer said, “We cannot express the depth of our gratitude for our generous and engaged community. This was an evening filled with great food and wine, good times with friends and neighbors, and a spirit of community and generosity that is awe-inspiring.”

Added MBEF Executive Director Farnaz Flechner: “I think our community is starting to develop a better understanding of our significant school funding challenge, and the importance of MBEF in overcoming that challenge. At this time, MBEF is the only mechanism we have to increase district-wide funding for our schools. This takes more than money. This takes a commitment of time, a passion for education, and a willingness to step up and pitch in however one can. This is why we love Manhattan Beach. We are surrounded by like-minded individuals who prioritize our children, our local public schools, and a sense of community.”

Lead sponsors of the event included Chevron, Manhattan Country Club, Belkin, Moss Adams, Wells Fargo, and SKECHERS.

The Manhattan Beach Education Foundation is a community driven fundraising organization, which supplements state funding for programs that inspire learning, enrich teaching, and promote innovation and academic excellence in the public schools of Manhattan Beach. MBEF funds programs that engage students in learning, spark their creativity, and help them discover their passions. In the 2016/17 school year, MBEF funded over $5.8 million to MBUSD. For more information, visit

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