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MBEF Raises $1 Million at Virtual Manhattan Wine Auction

Jun 03, 2020 10:03PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

2020 Manhattan Wine Auction Co-Chairs Rachel Disser and Rich Janson

The Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF) last weekend raised $1 million at its first-ever "virtual" wine auction in support of Manhattan Beach public schools.

The annual Manhattan Wine Auction, now in its 26th year, brings the community together each spring to raise critical funding for Manhattan Beach public schools. 

This year, although an in-person event was not possible due to coronavirus restrictions, more than 1,000 guests joined in the virtual event on May 30. 

“I am truly overwhelmed by the generosity of our community’s support of the virtual Manhattan Wine Auction this year," said MBEF Executive Director Hilary Mahan. "Despite not joining together in person, we witnessed an outpouring of support to fund our schools for the 2020-21 school year. While we still have a long way to go to address the shortfalls in education funding at the state level, the additional dollars raised on Saturday will have a significant impact and I am encouraged by the depth of dedication to our local public schools.”

The virtual event provided a variety of opportunities to support Manhattan Beach public schools. One of the evening’s highlights was a paddle raise that brought in more than $575,000 in donations dedicated to raising additional funding to support educators in classrooms district-wide for the coming school year.

Guests also had the opportunity to participate in a raffle drawing to spend spring break in Los Cabos, bid on silent and live auction lots, contribute to a paddle raise, join in virtual tasting experiences, and watch a livestream event that culminated the evening.

The silent auction opened to the community online a week prior to the event and helped raise over $200,000. The online live auction raised nearly $100,000, with packages including a San Francisco and Napa Valley wine excursion; in-home dinner with chef Anne Conness; the annual Chairman’s Emeritus dinner to be held at Spago Beverly Hills; a luxurious beach and golf trip to the Bahamas, extensive wine collections with rare and collectible wines donated by MBEF’s Wine Advisory Board, and more.

Unique to this year was the option to participate in virtual tasting experiences prior to the livestream event with one of several vintners, distilleries and breweries. Supporters pre-purchased more than 250 virtual tasting packages, which they then sampled in their homes, outside in their yards, and sometimes with friends while social distancing during the event. Tasting partners included Booker Wines, El Segundo Brewing, Gray Whale Gin, MAXEM Wine, Memento Mori, Nosotros Tequila, and Sextant Wines.

Top sponsors of the event included The Bay Club, Belkin, Chevron, Kinecta Federal Credit Union, The Maloney Firm and Zachys.

Spackman Honored

During the livestream event, MBEF presented its inaugural Legacy Award to Rod Spackman, manager of policy, government and public affairs with Chevron, one of the founding partners of the Manhattan Wine Auction.

“Chevron has donated over $1.5 million to MBEF and more than $4 million to the Manhattan Beach Unified School District," said Dan Rogoff, MBEF Board President. "Rod recognizes that a truly phenomenal public school system requires a partnership with local corporate support.”

MBEF Aims to Address Budget Challenges

MBEF is a community-driven fundraising organization. It funds programs and also supplements state funding for programs that inspire and enrich academic excellence in Manhattan Beach's public schools. In the 2019/20 school year, MBEF funded $6.5 million in programs in grades K-12.

That funding will certainly be critical in the coming year.

The Manhattan Beach Unified School District announced cuts of more than $3.6 million in late February due to a budget deficit. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenge. In late May, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced major cuts to education throughout the state, which could ultimately force more cuts to MBUSD in the coming months.

The proceeds from the Manhattan Wine Auction are expected to provide valuable support to the district in addressing these budget challenges.

Note: The next Manhattan Wine Auction is scheduled for June 12, 2021, in what organizers hope will once again be an in-person event.

For more information about MBEF, visit and
For more information about the Manhattan Wine Auction, see

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