Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most common questions people have about the DMSEF, STEAM+ and our fundraising efforts. If you don’t see your question, please contact us at 858-523-6007, [email protected], or contact your school’s DMSEF representative.

What is DMSEF?
The Del Mar Schools Education Foundation (DMSEF) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose sole purpose is to raise funds to help pay for the compensation packages of specialized, credentialed Science, Technology, Art, Music and PE (STEAM+) teachers at the eight elementary schools in the Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD).

DMUSD’s STEAM+ program aims to spark an interest and lasting love of the arts and sciences in students from an early age and teaches them creativity, resilience, and determination, all skills that are so important now in this everchanging world.

How much money should I contribute?
We suggest a tax-deductible contribution of $800 per student. We ask each family to consider the value of a robust STEAM+ program taught by credentialed specialists within the scope of their children’s education and give as much as they feel comfortable contributing. A contribution of $800 over the course of the school year is less than $100 per month and helps to ensure our children get the best STEAM+ education possible.

Our goal is for 100% family participation and $800 per student. However, we urge all families to give what they can—contributions at all levels are appreciated, and your contribution is tax-deductible.

How do I make a contribution?
You can contribute to DMSEF online or by mail. You can choose to make the suggested contribution of $800 per student in one payment or monthly payments throughout the year, for as little as $67 per month.

DMSEF has two main fundraisers throughout the school year: our Fall Fundraising Campaign and our school Jogathons in the Spring. DMSEF also has a close the gap campaign in May.

Where do DMSEF funds go?
All parent contributions given to DMSEF are restricted monies and can only be used by DMUSD to fund the compensation packages of STEAM+ specialists. On average, less than 10% of contributions are used for operating expenses; far lower than the 25% national average expenses for non-profit organizations (source: Charity Navigator). The DMSEF board is committed to keeping expenses low. That means at least 90% of contributions go directly to funding a robust STEAM+ program in our district.

Does DMUSD contribute to the cost of the compensation packages of STEAM+ specialists?
Yes, DMUSD financially supports approximately 60% of STEAM+ specialists’ compensation packages with the remaining 40% funded by DMSEF through its parent and corporate contributions. Click HERE to see DMSEF and DMUSD funding for STEAM+ in prior years

Funding credentialed STEAM+ teachers allows DMUSD to cover a limited amount of contractual planning time for grade-level classroom teachers when students attend specialized STEAM+ classes. This planning time allows grade-level teams an opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue about student needs, analysis of student work, and planning of future lessons and units of study.

What is our District Goal and how is it determined?
Our goal is to raise $1.4 million to help fund the STEAM+ teachers in the Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD). Last year, due to our community’s incredible support and generosity, we were able to raise $1.22 million, or 87% of our annual goal! With your help this year, we can reach our goal and help cover the 40% shortfall from state and local funding to fund the salaries for credentialed STEAM+ teachers at all of our schools.

How do School Goals work?
Each school’s goal is based on their school’s enrollment as of 9/1/20.

I already give to the PTA. Do I need to give to DMSEF too?
Yes, parent support (through contributions and volunteering) is critical to both organizations. All contributions given to the District through DMSEF are restricted monies and can only be used to fund STEAM+ specialists’ compensation packages. Donations to the PTA support projects, programs, events, and grants specific to each school.

Who serves on the DMSEF Board of Directors?
The DMSEF board includes DMUSD parents from every school and in the Launch program who volunteer their time to ensure the highest quality of education for our children. The board is responsible for all DMSEF business, including fundraising, marketing/communications, finance/budgets, and administration. School representatives are nominated by members of the DMSEF Board of Directors to serve two-year terms.

The board meets at regularly scheduled, monthly meetings. Meetings are open to all members of the community and are generally held on the second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. at Sage Canyon School. As meeting times and places are subject to change and are currently on Zoom due to school closures, please contact the office to verify time and location of future meetings.

Will the DMUSD School Board control DMSEF funds?
Contributions to DMSEF go directly to funding the salaries of STEAM+ specialists and are completely separate from the district’s allocation of other funds. These funds cannot be reallocated or used for any other purpose.

What are the benefits of a district-wide fundraising model?
DMSEF uses a district-wide model to fund the salaries for our STEAM+ subject specialists because we believe in a quality education for all of the students in our community. The DMUSD Board of Trustees supports DMSEF and this model.

Using a district-wide model has many benefits:

  • It enables DMUSD to have a more consistent revenue stream to fund the salaries of STEAM+ specialists now and in the future.
  • It provides more parity among the schools, which is key since most children in the district’s eight elementary schools pool into the same three middle schools and then into the same two high schools.
  • It consolidates fundraising at the district level and supports a community-based fundraising effort.
  • It allows us to build synergy among our fundraising efforts and target larger corporate donors.
  • It provides for equitable disbursement while also ensuring flexibility among the schools, so that individual sites can maintain programs that are unique to their site.

If DMSEF raises enough money, will we continue to have the same STEAM+ specialists as this year?
DMSEF funds supplement the DMUSD budget to secure STEAM+ positions at all eight schools. STEAM+ specialists are employees of DMUSD; therefore, assignment of STEAM+ specialists to a school is managed by the rules and regulations of DMUSD.

I contributed! How else can I help?
The DMSEF Board is made up of parents from every school in the district who volunteer their time to ensure the highest quality education for our children. The DMSEF Board generally has two representatives from each school in the district. We have openings at some schools to become DMSEF Directors and we welcome new board members and volunteers. We encourage parents to reach out to learn learn more at or contact us at [email protected]

Is my contribution tax-deductible?
Yes. DMSEF is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and your contribution is tax-deductible. Please consult your tax advisor for more information. Our tax identification number is 33-0925945.

What is STEAM+?
In our school district, STEAM+ provides robust and engaging opportunities for students to experience an interdisciplinary approach to learning.  Purposeful learning occurs around clear concepts that require students to think critically and explore solutions to real-world problems.  We are preparing our students for the future! Dynamic learning environments support strategic thinking, innovation, and collaboration.

These practices promote deep understanding and sustain a lifetime of inquiry. Students who are prepared for their future must be able to connect experiences from a variety of disciplines and think about problems through a new lens. Science and engineering concepts fuse together with technology and art!  Physical education and music collide in ways never before imagined.

Support for STEAM+ reflects the Del Mar Union School District’s commitment to the education and development of the whole child.  We are in the relentless pursuit of creating experiences where every student has opportunities to develop their individuality and learn to communicate their thinking while gaining an understanding of the world around them.

What is a credentialed STEAM+ specialist and why is it important?
DMUSD hires only STEAM+ credentialed specialists for instruction in our schools. This means that your student will have all STEAM+ instruction from trained and state certified educators in their area of expertise. These teachers are both subject matter experts and experienced educators who bring their passion for their discipline to their classrooms. Following state-mandated standards for their subjects, these specialists tailor their classes to each grade and collaborate with classroom teachers to enhance the core curriculum. They support our district’s mission to educate the “whole” child by providing students with opportunities for hands-on activities, problem-solving, teamwork, and exposure to the arts and sciences beyond what is possible in the general education classroom.

In addition, many of our STEAM+ specialists provide our children with extracurricular opportunities, such as lunch-time clubs (e.g., Zoology, Garden, Green, Engineering, Band, Strings, Chorus, Digital Video, Art, Math, etc.), and organize special events (musical performances, art shows, science fairs and competitions, problem solving competitions, photography shows, sport competitions, etc.)

What is the difference between Enrichment and STEAM+?
Enrichment provides optional classes offered as part of the DMUSD After-School Program. Parents can pay an additional fee for each class they are interested in having their child attend. Learn more at

STEAM+ classes are taught by credentialed specialists and STEAM+ instruction is provided during the regular school day in all eight schools. Every student, including your child, receives STEAM+ instruction (K-6 grade); no child is excluded from these programs. However, without sufficient funding to pay for STEAM+ specialists, this extraordinary learning opportunity would not be possible.

How can I find out what my child does in STEAM+?
STEAM+ instruction at each school varies by grade and is tied to state and grade-based curriculum standards for each subject. Each school has their own process for sharing what your child learns in STEAM+, including teacher emails, art displays, performances, school websites, etc. We encourage you to talk to your principal, STEAM+ specialists or DMSEF Directors at your school to learn more about your child’s STEAM+ program.

Can parents help decide what programs are offered through STEAM+? Can we get different programs in our schools, like Robotics?
District staff and principals regularly seek input regarding learning opportunities available at each school site. Over the years, different options have been available in addition to the core specialty content areas of art, music, science, PE, and technology. In some cases, the availability of highly qualified instructional staff has impacted the offerings of core specialty content areas. Due to funding and the allocation of content specialists (specialists being assigned to more than one site, therefore creating a full-time position), focusing on the identified core content specialty areas helps to ensure highly qualified specialists are available and interested in working in DMUSD because we are able to offer full-time employment. As is often the case, programs such as robotics are above and beyond what is expected of content-area specialists and heavily reliant on volunteers to support the program.

Will there be specialists for Engineering? Or will students be pulled out for Engineering? Or how is Engineering going to be covered?
While the “E” in STEAM+ does stand for engineering, each letter in STEAM+ doesn’t represent a specialist. It is about integrated learning. Current funding supports five core specialty content areas: art, music, science, PE, and technology. In most of these specialty content areas, students learn overlapping concepts inclusive of mathematics and engineering. Technology experiences frequently overlap with mathematics and engineering principles. Music, mathematics, and technology intersect as students learn about music and create original compositions. Science Standards are inclusive of engineering and mathematics concepts and standards. Art, technology, and engineering are the foundation for taking an idea from concept to design.

Updated on August 16, 2021