It’s high time we put Galveston ISD Educational Foundation in the top tier of local charitable organizations. 

After years of continuous growth, including the last three under the leadership of Executive Director Eliza Quigley, the GEF is now raising hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to go toward educational initiatives at local public schools. The GEF raised nearly $300,000 for Galveston ISD educational initiatives each of the last two years through various private foundation contributions and individual gifts. 

“I think we have the name now as an organization, the respect and visibility in the community,” Quigley said. “We worked on branding and marketing for 18 months. We worked really hard to tell the story of the foundation, its mission and the teachers.”

Quigley cited her “hands-on, working” board as the biggest reason for recent achievements. The foundation is largely known for donating thousands in grants to teachers and schools for projects that normally aren’t covered by the district’s general budget. It also goes after large donations that align with GISD educational goals. 

One of the biggest victories for the GEF the past year came when it received $205,000 from the Moody Foundation for the district’s extensive balanced literacy program that seeks to increase reading levels of students at elementary and middle schools. GEF President Hal Rochkind said the Moody Foundation “hit a home run with this important gift.”

Because of the influx of extra funding, the foundation awarded the GISD New Teacher Academy with $11,000. The New Teacher Academy is a mentorship program for first-year teachers in the district. The money will be used for books and basic supplies to help get their rooms up and going.

“Many of these new hires are in the process of moving to the island and have the expense of moving, setting up a new residence, as well as setting up their classrooms,” said Dana Miller, head of the New Teacher Academy. “I truly feel one of the best ways to help our students is to support their teacher. The GEF money will be a lifesaver.”

Don’t expect the foundation board to rest on its collective laurels.

Quigley said she expects the board to raise its annual budget to match the GEF’s success. The GEF far surpassed its annual budget of $130,000 in funds raised this year, tripling its individual gifts through its annual campaign, Spring Event, and Friends of the Foundation program. Other goals this year include increasing individual gifts even further and starting a summer reading program at the district, an extension of balanced literacy.

“Over the past two years as president of GEF, we have seen many successes including our overall growth as an organization,” Rochkind said. “This victory is a direct result of hard work by our board, executive director, staff and, most importantly, our donors. Our community is so fortunate to have such generosity bestowed upon our public schools.”

For more information on the Galveston ISD Educational Foundation, visit

Johnston Farrow is the communications specialist for Galveston ISD.

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