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Annual BEF fundraiser looks to bring in big money

By: Mike Koury | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 3, 2016

BIRMINGHAM — The Birmingham Education Foundation will hold its 15th annual Unabashed Bash auction fundraiser to raise funds for grants for the Birmingham Public Schools district.

The event will be held beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at Somerset Collection, 2800 W. Big Beaver Road in Troy.

The money raised by the event helps supply grants to the 13 schools in the district to fund field trips and programs the schools might not be able to pay for otherwise.

BEF Executive Director Alison Hendry said that through the grant process, teachers can apply for materials or projects in their classrooms. Some projects funded by BEF include a hydroponic garden at Birmingham Covington School and field trips to see the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

“Sometimes we’re able to provide seed money for programs that the district maybe wants to try out but really isn’t sure if it’s going to work,” Hendry said. “We’re able to provide the seed money to give it a shot, see if it’s going to work or not. And then if it works, most of the time the district will then pick up the continuing expense.”

This is the event’s first year at Somerset Collection, where it moved to accommodate more space in hopes that the event will be able to bring in more people to raise more money for the district. The event previously was held at the Townsend Hotel.

The auction features items such as a dinner cruise on a sailboat, a private dinner for 10 at the Stand Gastro Bistro, a vacation package to the Cayman Islands and one to the Virgin Islands, airfare from Delta Air Lines, and tickets to a Detroit Pistons game. An online auction will run through Wednesday, Feb. 10, at biddingforgood.com/supportbef.

The Unabashed Bash features a cocktail reception, dinner, dancing and entertainment from students in the district.

Event organizer Ryan Abney said last year’s fundraiser brought in about $149,000, of which they were able to give away $130,000 in grant money to the schools. She hopes that with the move to a bigger venue, they’ll be able to bring in more money than last year, which was the most money raised in the event’s 15 years.

“That was our reason for moving to the Somerset Collection,” she said.

Tickets for the auction cost $175 per person and can be purchased by calling (248) 203-3030 or by visiting supportbef.org. The last day to buy tickets is Wednesday, Feb. 3.