The calendar may designate Jan. 1 as the first day of the year, but the South-Western City School District Educational Foundation's year begins in the spring with its annual fundraising dinner.

The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. April 19 at the Darby House at Darby Dan Farms, 925 Darby Creek Drive, Galloway.

"This is our main fundraiser and it really kicks things off for us in raising the funds that will allow us to provide our grants and scholarships next school year," said Alyson Hurley, a trustee with the foundation and chairwoman for the dinner.

The evening will feature samples from three Cameron Mitchell Restaurants -- Cap City Fine Diner, Mitchell's Ocean Club and Marcella's.

"There will be stations set up for each restaurant and you'll be able to sample a variety of cuisine," Hurley said. "It will be designed as a fun night of food and socializing with friends."

The evening will include remarks from district Superintendent Bill Wise, who will provide an update on district programs and initiatives. Representatives of the foundation will offer an overview of the organization's efforts.

Individual tickets cost $125 and can be purchased via the foundation's website,

The registration deadline is March 31.

"The foundation's mission is to fund educational grants that support innovative programs that have an educational impact for students in our schools and scholarships to assist students with their plans to further their education after high school," Hurley said.

Teachers and other district staff apply for grants, which the foundation awards in the fall.

"We award the grants across the district and across all grade levels," Hurley said. "We evaluate grant requests looking for innovative program ideas, how many students the grant request will reach and the impact the program will have on students."

Scholarships are announced in the spring.

The criteria for the scholarships include academic achievement, financial need, a student's involvement in activities that benefit their school and community and leadership, Hurley said. Students must have at least a 3.0 grade point average (weighted) to qualify for a scholarship.

Since its inception in 1988, the foundation has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships and about $300,000 in grants. Along with the annual dinner, the foundation's fundraising efforts include a golf outing each summer and an honors concert each fall.