Indian Dance at Broad Meadow School

History of the Needham Education Foundation

In 1990, a group of alumni from Needham High School had just celebrated their 50th class reunion and were looking for a way to leave a legacy to their hometown. So the Needham school superintendent issued a challenge: provide seed money for a foundation that will raise funds in order to stimulate and support innovative educational programs in the public school system.

The Class of 1939 accepted this challenge with passion. They parlayed a small class gift of just $3,000 into a foundation that has awarded hundreds of grants totaling over $2 million. By the time Needham children complete their high school career, they have been touched by NEF-supported programs many, many times.

“Children represent the future for all of us. We must pass on the legacy that you should never stop learning.” —Ralph Leader, Founder and First President, Needham Education Foundation; Retired Major General, Massachusetts Air National Guard; Winner of the Needham High School Distinguished Alumnus Award, Needham High School, Class of 1939

We promote innovation. We seek out and fund programs that are beyond normal and expected public funding. We fund leading-edge projects in math and science, languages and the arts, emerging technologies, social development, and more. At a time when public funds are scarce and resources are increasingly limited, NEF’s grants for innovation provide an important outlet for teachers, parents, and students to learn, experiment, and improve.

Today, that is our passion.

The Vision

The vision of the original NEF Board of Directors was to establish a Sustaining Fund that would allow annual grants in the amount of $100,000 from investment returns. Historically, NEF has granted 8% to 10% annually to the Needham Public Schools while continuing to grow the Sustaining Fund.  For more information on our Sustaining Fund, please see our Financial Highlights.

Fund-raising efforts include the Annual Spelling Bee in the spring, the Annual Appeal in the fall, as well as the Teacher Appreciation Cards program.

Our Mission

The NEF raises funds and awards grants to promote innovation and excellence in education for Needham public school students.