“The peace and beauty of the space is exceptional, and I believe it’s healing for people from a variety of backgrounds; not just nature or garden enthusiasts.”

Lisa Raffel is the Executive Director of Bridge the Gap, a Marin City nonprofit that provides educational, social, and emotional support to students as they strive to complete high school and graduate from college. Their programs include tutoring, reading intervention, life skill development, college preparation, career advisement, internship exploration, and more. Their goal is to strengthen vulnerable communities through education and enable students to achieve their greatest potential.

Lisa’s passion for inclusive educational environments began when she was an elementary school teacher. She saw firsthand the lack of opportunities for low-income students of color and committed herself to helping them find ways to overcome those barriers. For the past three decades, she has advocated and been a champion for educational equity. With her writing, researching, and training skills, she has collaborated with a diverse group of nonprofits and districts to further her mission. In addition to implementing and designing Bridge the Gap’s first in-school literacy intervention program, she increased the organization’s overall programming and participation by 40 percent.

Marin Art and Garden Center was introduced to Lisa by two Bridge the Gap volunteers, Ned Purdom and Lauren Howard. She was asked if she would be interested in bringing students to Marin Art and Garden Center for a variety of reasons, including internships, art workshops, and tours.

“We brought high school students to meet an artist whose work was on exhibit in the gallery, and the students were able to do a hands-on workshop with her. It was amazing,” Lisa explains. “We also brought a middle school group. They got to take a tour, did gardening, and tasted some of the vegetables. Both experiences were extraordinary. I was also involved in a listening session with community leaders once, and I held my organization’s board retreat at the Garden. They were equally wonderful.”

In an effort to provide the most fulfilling enrichment experiences for students, Lisa has worked closely with Marin Art and Garden Center’s staff and volunteers during her programs. “The people who make up the organization are of exceptionally high quality,” she praises. “They are kind, helpful, wise, eager to build partnerships, and always interested in how they can be better partners.”

Lisa has explored every corner of the property and always loves to see what’s growing in the Edible Garden, as she too is a vegetable gardener. She enjoys gazing upon the majestic trees because, as she says, “They are marvelous and beautiful.” She has learned a lot during her visits, including the history of Ross and everything about image making with seaweed from Josie Iselin’s workshop. One of her favorite memories is from when she watched the high school students in her program be so engaged and focused while making art with their hands near the English oak tree and Butterfly Cottage.

Lisa’s collaboration with Marin Art and Garden Center has brought a tremendous amount of opportunity to Marin County youth. They have been exposed to the wonders of the natural world while building lifelong art skills. “The peace and beauty of the space is exceptional,” Lisa says, “and I believe it’s healing to people from all kinds of backgrounds; not just nature or garden enthusiasts.”

When asked what advice she would give to anyone exploring programs at Marin Art and Garden Center, Lisa says, “Do not delay! Bring yourself, your colleagues and the people you serve. Go for it! It will be a great experience!”

Website: btgcollegeprep.org

More to explore

IRS Guidelines for Gifts from Donor Advised Funds to Support MAGC Events

Thank you for your interest in giving to the Marin Art & Garden Center events from your Donor Advised Fund (DAF) or Family Foundation.

We sincerely appreciate your generosity and support!

To ensure your gift follows the current IRS guidelines for DAF/Family Foundation support of an event, we would like to share the below guidelines with you.

  • Raffle tickets, tickets to galas and other special events, auction items, and benefits conferred in connection with a DAF/foundation grant are not permitted.
    • IRS has specifically ruled that fair market value associated with fundraising events cannot be separated, a practice known as “bifurcation.”
      • For example, with Edible Garden, if the price of the ticket is $200 and the FMV fair market value (non-tax-deductible amount) is designated to be $50, the donor must pay from sources other than her DAF/foundation for the full value of the ticket ($200) and not just for the non-tax-deductible amount ($50).
    • We recommend you confer with your financial advisor to confirm if any of these examples of how donors may still use their DAF to support an event would work for you:
      • A donor could sponsor the event, and not attend, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event using DAF/foundation funds and attend by purchasing an individual ticket through non-DAF/foundation funds.
      • A donor could sponsor the event, join the event as a guest of another donor/table guest, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event and host the afforded number of people at their chosen level as long as they pay for the seats at the lowest ticket price ($200 for Edible Garden) outside of their DAF.
        • As an example, a $1,500 sponsor that covers 2 guests, could pay for their sponsorship with $400 from a different source of funds, and then give an additional gift of $1,100 out of their DAF.


Please email Tod Thorpe, Director of Development at tod.thorpe@maringarden.org to discuss your gift to Marin Art and Garden Center