Our Story

In 1982, California’s school system experienced major budget deficits. Classes long considered foundational to K-12 education – classes like art, music, home ec, workshop, and even PE – were being cut from classroom instruction.

In response, a group of local educators, business leaders, parents, and community activists gathered to devise their own funding solutions for Petaluma area schools. The outcome was the creation of the Petaluma Educational Foundation (PEF), a privately funded, non-profit organization committed to creating diverse, creative, and impactful education opportunities for our city’s youth.

Today, PEF supports more than 13,000 students annually across 38 K-12 public, private, and charter schools. Join us and become part of the PEF legacy supporting the students of yesterday, today, and tomorrow to build a brighter future for generations to come.

FUND FUTURE IMPACT GRANTS Scholarship Program Create your Legacy

Our Vision

PEF’s vision is to create impactful educational opportunities for all students in our community.

Our mission

PEF’s mission is to fund programs that promote critical thinking, creativity, student well-being, and lifelong learning. We work closely with public, private, and charter schools throughout our district to craft impact grants and promote scholarships that align with PEF’s goals, while taking into account each school’s and each student’s unique needs.

Our History


Petaluma Educational Foundation incorporated September 30, 1982.


PEF files first 990 Tax Return, Gross Receipts = $20,377; PEF Logo Contest winner announced: Jim Balshaw, Casa Grande High School.


First PEF Grants: $18,000 awarded in “mini-grants” – limit $500


PEF Mission expanded to include all schools, including St Vincent’s schools.


PEF files second 990 Tax Return, Gross Receipts = $120,377


First scholarships awarded in the amount of $12,350 Invest in Education launched to fund grants in schools


First PEF Grants: $29,000 awarded in “mini-grants” – limit $1500


PEF has awarded more than $8.4 million to our students and schools

Meet our annual Partners for Education

Our community partners place education at the top of their philanthropic passions. That’s why they work with PEF to ensure that their generous donations have the greatest impact on Petaluma’s schools and students. To learn more about how your organization can support local education initiatives and help fund our community’s future, please click the button below to contact us.

Become an Annual Partner for Education

Leadership Team

Maureen Highland
Executive Director
Katy Verke
Program Director
Sharon Kimball
Accounting Manager
Maria Mandolini
Alphabet Soup Store Manager


Debra Dow
Hoby Wedler
Vice President
Craig Walker
Vice President
Neal Reardon
Tim McGaughey
Joanie Benedetti Claussen
Member at Large
Mike Harris
Past President

Board Members

Daniele Tarantino Bugbee
Rebecca Celli
Andrew Fishman
Teresa Hatcher
Melinda Hepp
Carol Isaak
Carol Ann Libarle
Mike Maddalena
Mark Niemann
Rajina Ranadive, M.D.
Kimberly Strickland


Patrick Daly
Principal / SVHS
Mike Gardner
Cindy Friberg
Superintendent / OAUSD
Michele Gouchberg
Superintendent / OAUSD
Matthew Harris
Superintendent / PCSD
Jane Saldana-Talley
VP, Academic Affairs / SRJC

Get in Touch!