- Mentoring youth for success in college, careers and life.
The Bridgeport Public Education Fund was established in 1983 as an independent advise fund of the Bridgeport Area Foundation. The first outreach to the district was sponsoring the Mini-Grants for Teachers program. Community members evaluated the proposals by personally visiting teachers and making funding decisions. Although over one million dollars was given to teachers for their classroom projects, the main purpose was to bring community members into the schools, to meet teacher and students, and gain a new perspective of what urban schools looked like helping to dispel the myths of the surrounding communities.
As of January 1, 1994 the Bridgeport Public Education Fund, Inc. has been operating as a separate non-profit, tax-exempt educational organization. The Fund is administered by a Board of Directors made up of school, business and civic leaders. BPEF is also one of the few local education funds in the country that consistently recruits students to serve on the board of directors. The Fund is designed to stimulate excellence in the Bridgeport public school system by providing support for innovative programs that improve the educational climate in the city's schools.
Priorities of the Fund are to increase the community's involvement in the schools, to foster awareness of the school systems many strengths and to improve teacher morale and motivation through support for creative classroom projects.
- Community Outreach Program focuses its attention on bringing together our partners to be effective partners with the school district, planning Education Forums, and discussing new opportunities for community involvement.
- The Mentoring for Academic Achievement and College/Career Success (MAACS) program is a college bound program pairing students from area universities with Bassick, Central and Fairchild Wheeler high schools, with students who have college potential that began in 1988.
- College Readiness Workshops is a one day event for seniors who attended the MAACS program for a minimum of two years and are committed to a post-secondary education.
- The College Assistance Program (CAP) provides emotional, social, academic and financial, support to the high school seniors who have been MAACS participants for at least two years and who attend the College Readiness Workshops throughout their college matriculation. CAP began in 2003.
- The Inspiration Event now includes the Beard Excellence in Teaching Award administered through the Fairfield County Community Foundation. Each year the BPEF honors eight Outstanding Teachers, an award honoring Betty Pfriem is presented to a person who has made a substantial contribution to the work of the BPEF, and the George Bellinger Leadership Award is presented to an outstanding principal of a Bridgeport public school, and at least two Beard Excellence in Teaching awards will be are awarded. Starting in 2017 BPEF has assumed the management of the Beard award process.
- Education Forums are a series of community forums featuring nationally known speakers who promote national school reform initiatives.
- BPEF is a longtime member of the National College Access Network, a coalition of college access programs, and partners with the Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition, School Volunteer Association, The Parent Leadership Training Institute, RYASAP. BPEF is also a founding member of the Bridgeport Higher Education Alliance.