The Downey Foundation for Educational Opportunities (DFEO) is a recently established nonprofit supporter of the Downey Unified School District.
The purpose the DFEO is to support Downey Unified’s mission and vision by providing program enhancement and fill gaps created due to State and Federal funding fluctuations.
One year ago, members of Downey’s community joined together and began the process of creating a local education foundation because they wanted to support Downey Unified if and when the aforementioned fluctuations occur and perform as an avenue to supplement the preparation of students for their respective futures.
Currently, the DFEO has an after-school violin program for third and fourth grade students that operates at seven elementary campuses within Downey Unified. In addition, a beginning music class has also become available on Saturday mornings for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
“This is our pilot program and we chose music because arts education is one of the Foundation’s objectives, and it will definitely fill a void at the elementary level,” expressed DFEO’s President, Linda Salomon-Saldana. “Right now students are given the option of joining band in sixth grade and for some of them, it is the first time they have ever been exposed to music and we want that experience to start at a younger age.”
Saldana is a parent of three children, two of which currently attend Downey Unified schools with the third entering in the fall. She is currently an active member of Downey Unified’s LCAP Committee, a group of individuals selected to oversee the District’s budget, the First Vice President of Maude Price Elementary School’s PTA, and is a member of the Title I Oversight Committee Maude Price Elementary School.
“I believe there should be no limits on a child’s education. Why shouldn’t children learn to play music in the third grade, or have SAT College Prep Courses available to them in fifth grade? Maybe even have weeklong science field trips in 6th grade,” stated Saldana. “Things like this are more commonplace in neighboring districts such as Irvine, Culver City and Burbank. Believe it or not, the way they’re funding these opportunities is not with state or federal funding, it’s through foundations.”
The DFEO board is comprised of respected community members, leaders, and members of the local business community with the collective goal to provide innovative thinking, discover cutting edge opportunities, and pave new and exciting pathways for our students to be the best.
The DFEO board is comprised of: president, Linda Salomon-Saldana; vice president, Valentin Flores, Stay Gallery; and treasurer, Kaye Quintero, president of Northwest Downey Little League.
The Board of Directors includes William Medina, Phil Davis, Jacqueline Tapia, Jerry Wetzstein, Matt Knox, Joslyn Davis, Jason Barquero and Claudia Marroquin-Formeta.
“We are very excited that this committed group of Downey Unified supporters has coalesced to back the vision set out by our Board of Education,” said Downey Unified Superintendent Dr. John Garcia. “The Downey Foundation for Educational Opportunities will help us continue to withstand the constant fluctuations in state and federal funding for our schools. In a very short time, they have already benefitted many of our elementary students via their music program.”