ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester Education Foundation has spent almost two decades helping students, tonight the foundation got some support in the form of a fundraiser called “A Toast to REF.” In total, the non-profit raised $75,000.

Organizers honored educators for their service to the community and celebrated students who benefitted from their service. Two of those musicians, flautist Jashanti Henry and violist Douglas Rodriguez each performed two pieces.

The foundation says their programs provide students in Rochester City School District with access to books for classrooms and home libraries, music and arts education opportunities, and assistance on the road to college and a career.

“It’s a lot about choice and opportunity,” said Executive Director of REF, Amy Stein. “We want to make sure that we’re providing as many opportunities as possible. So that students have as many choices as possible. So if you don’t know that something even exists, then you can’t dream that it could be yours, and you can’t follow that path. So we want to make sure that we answer things so that they can.”

REF is perhaps best known for its instrument drive at the Rochester International Jazz Festival. The drive allows students to have access to affordable, working instruments. Henry credited his whole career to being able to afford his first instrument in an on-stage interview at the event.

 “REF has collected instruments from hundreds of festivalgoers. These instruments have meant so much to the students who were able to experience the joy of learning to play an instrument,” Stein said in a June interview with News 8 ahead of the 2022 RIJG.

News 8’s Natalie Kucko served as emcee.