Fun fundraiser: Zionsville Education Foundation Bash returns with school spirit theme


The Zionsville Education Foundation’s 2023 Bash, an annual fundraising event, is rapidly approaching.

At 6 p.m. on Nov. 4 inside the Golf Club of Indiana Cardinal room, the ZEF will host a fundraising event that supports Zionsville Community Schools.

Tickets are $125 per person. Admission includes dinner, an open bar, entertainment and the chance to bid on trips and auction items. The band Dave & Rae will perform, and Magician Randy Pryor will entertain guests during the first hour of the event.

ZEF is a nonprofit that has served Zionsville for more than 20 years. According to Lyle Browne, executive director of the ZEF, the organization was founded in 1995 by a visionary group of people dedicated to education in the community.

According to ZEF, Zionsville Community Schools is the state’s lowest-funded public school corporation per student in Indiana. Proceeds raised through fundraisers, corporate sponsorships, individual donations and support from community merchants help bridge the gap between basic curricular necessities provided by state funds and the innovative ideas educators create to encourage students to develop into lifelong thinkers.

Event co-chair Andrea Fonseca said the annual fundraising event is vital for many reasons, but mainly because it allows the organization to provide grants to educators.

The foundation offers Classroom Grants, Imagine Professional Development Grants and Strategic Initiative Grants annually across the district. It also supports students in extracurricular activities through Student Enrichment Grants, which award funds to school-sanctioned academic, philanthropic or student government teams and clubs.

According to Browne, the nonprofit has awarded over $1.75 million to Zionsville Community Schools over the last 28 years. 2023 is the fourth year school spirit has been the theme for its fall fundraiser.

“ZEF Bash is our largest annual fundraiser and enables us to fund innovative ideas and creative projects across the district,” Browne said. “Our mission is to serve our school community by providing funds that promote academic excellence.”

According to the foundation, recent initiatives funded by ZEF include:

  • Laptop programs.
  • Equipment for a student-run video production studio.
  • Materials supporting a school-wide literature study.
  • Financial support for artists-in-residence.

This year, the ZEF asks attendees to participate in a school spirit theme, wear Zionsville Eagles gear and represent their favorite Zionsville athletic team. Fonseca said the theme for the event has evolved over time.

“Our fall event has always been big, and we used to do a barn bash before settling on the school-spirit theme for the last few years,” Fonseca said.

Browne said the format for event tickets is a bit different this year because there will be no VIP option.

“We used to have a VIP hour before the event, but this year, we are combining everything into one,” Browne said. “One ticket that will include everything the event has to offer.”

This year, attendees will also have the opportunity to bid on AmFund trips, and a portion of each bid will help fund ZEF grants to support Zionsville schools. Trip destinations include Thailand, Sedona, Costa Rica and Greece, among others.

The foundation will unveil this year’s exclusive ZEF hat at night’s end. Browne said anyone who donates $75 during the night receives a hat.

“We call the unveiling of the hat ‘Cap off the Night’ because it is how we end the fundraiser each year,” Browne said. “Each year, we have an exclusive ZEF hat that is our gift to donors. It is a great way to continue showing school spirit and support for ZEF at different events throughout the year.”

Fonseca said the foundation works with different vendors for hat ideas representing the school system each year.

“We have done different styles, such as trucker and baseball hats, and it stays secret until the night of the event,” Fonseca said. “Developing ideas and designing something new each year is fun.”

ZEF has two part-time staff members and a 20-person volunteer Board of Directors.

“We are grateful for the time and talents of our board and community member volunteers on the Classroom and Imagine Grants committees that review the grant applications and the ZEF Bash committee,” Browne said. “We simply couldn’t do what we do without them.”

For anyone who cannot attend the event in person at 6905 S. 525 E., Lebanon, a link will open on Nov. 1 to bid on the silent auction items and trips. Bidding will go through 9:30 p.m. on the night of the event. Register at


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