Redding Resident of the Week: Alice Smith

Patch chats with the Redding Education Foundation President.

Name: Alice Smith

Occupation: President of the Redding Education Foundation (REF), personal trainer and holistic nutrition coach.

How long have you lived in Redding?

I moved here with my husband in December 1990, before our children were born.

How long have you been and why did you get involved with REF?

I've been a supporter of REF since their first campaign, back in 2003 when they purchased 2 mobile computer carts (IBM) for John Read Middle School (JRMS). I was asked to join the board in 2006, after having served as the PTA co-president for JRMS. My position on REF was as chair of the refQUEST program or REF's "Community Conversation" program. I also did the newsletters, graphics and re-designed the website. I evolved to the position I hold now, as president, for the past 3 years.

What do you enjoy most about your work with REF and your other occupations?

REF has given me the opportunity to delve deeply into understanding education, best practice and how we learn. It's broadened my connection with everyone in town and makes me a more pro-active citizen. I also feel more confident in approaching our leaders in a more meaningful way. The due-diligence required to run a Foundation supports a more even playing field & gives me the confidence to take on bigger challenges. It's a practice in humility as well. I  "walk their walk", hence, I build trust. And I've become a much better mother to my children because I have a better understanding of how they learn and what their needs are.

My business background is actually in desktop publishing and design, which I utilize daily for REF, supporting the PTAs, Redding Garden Club, my personal training business and other projects. But my training and nutritional coaching business, which began back in 1993, is founded on my belief that "we are what we eat" and what we do daily supports our overall well-being and health. My approach to training is holistic, so the practice never really ends. And that's what I try to instill in my clients (as well as friends and family). People who know me know that I am tremendously passionate about alternative behaviors and I am open to new ideas. It's so much more fun when you are open to possibility.

What does REF do?

The Redding Education Foundation is dedicated to mobilizing and enhancing opportunities to promote educational excellence so that the Redding community may better experience the fulfillment of learning at every age. REF partners with schools, community members and local organizations to achieve a shared vision of educational excellence though innovation. It invests in community, educational and cultural arts initiatives that go beyond the scope of town budgets. We believe the investment in intellectual and technological innovation makes learning more effective and efficient across generations while celebrating our respected educators' passion and professional excellence. 

The REF board works diligently to be informed about the best and latest research and educational practices nationwide to responsibly allocate funds where they will have greatest impact. We seek to attract abundant resources and expertise for our community initiatives. 

REF is an all-volunteer board of community members who contribute their time, talent and treasury to support our work. The ultimate vision is to enhance the town of Redding's reputation as a preferred community, in which to educate and live and aspires s to be a model for other communities seeking to promote educational excellence.

Who can apply for grants and how do you do it?

The foundation awards grants to fund innovative projects in our schools and around our community. For example, we accept applications for grants from teachers who would like to initiate an educational projects in the Redding community. The maximum grant award—that doesn't require a campaign—remains at $2,000, and are referred to as "GEEP" grants: Grants for Enhancement of Educational Practice. However, larger amounts may be awarded for grants that include equipment requests. Usually, funds awarded are for use during the following school year.

All grant applications can be found on our website. Choose grant application depending on district (Redding, Region 9 (which includes Easton).

By the way, REF partners with the Easton Learning Foundation at the high school level or Joel Barlow High School. Typically, we will review grants together and if we have the funds, will split them down the middle

What is the biggest need that you have fulfilled for Redding BOE?

That would be both the computer carts at JRMS and the SmartBoard campaign in the lower schools.

What are your goals for REF?

The goals for REF are:  to secure a very active & committed REF board, enhance partnership with all the administrators in our schools and town leaders, maintain an active stream of funds through effective and innovative campaigns and secure grants that enhance educational practice and innovation in our community.

How does REF raise funds?

Typically it is through yearly "ask" whether through our yearly newsletter, town mailer campaign, direct ask to past supporters. The past few years have been difficult due to, we believe, the economy and return to work place by board members. REF definitely needs a defined "fund raiser" but again, since this is an all-volunteer board so it's up to the volunteers to show up and support. It will come!

How can others in the community get involved?

Send a note (info@reddingeducationfoundation.org). Check out our website. Give me a call. We can invite you to a board meeting. Just reach out. Believe me, if you are willing to help, we will take it. There's always something to do. Or you can simply send a check. That helps a lot!

What is your favorite thing about Redding?

It's unbelievable beauty and natural quality.

What is your favorite place in Redding?

There really isn't one place. It could be a time of year, when the first green growth pops out of the ground in the woods, or when the leaves change color, or witnessing the first snow fall or watching hummingbirds feeding on my butterfly bushes. I garner much peace from this special place. My hope is to continue to secure that for our future generations. And education is a certain way to do it.


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