Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hot topic: How to donate to low SES schools (for parents with some disposable income)

This from a reader:
I would like an easy way to give money to the schools with the highest percentage of low SES schools. I don't know anything about how to go about making this happen but I'm interested to know if others would like to help. If we can get two or three families interested who would like to volunteer time to this, I would be happy to lead it. Could anyone with opinions on this topic (I'm sure it has been thought of before) let me know why this might be hard or impossible? This is from another thread from March, about what PTAs raise. I think there would be both public and private school families interested in giving to the neediest schools, in addition to the current donations they give. I have given before to low income schools but it has been haphazard and I just wanted to explore what would make it easier to do this electronically. Thank you for anyone expressing interest - if there are enough of us, I'll host a meeting to discuss!


  1. Our school, Yick Wo, with 60% of its popoulation receiving free or reduced lunch, is in the process of setting up Wish Lists on where potential donors can review multiple needs across classrooms and buy much needed supplies. In addition, our website has a "support us" tab where you can make direct donations via Paypal. Of course Donors Choose is a location where teachers document their needs and donors can make donations.

  2. What San Francisco needs is something like what Marin has -- a foundation that gives money to ALL the public schools. That foundation, Kiddo, has raised so much money this year that there will be no layoffs of teachers, no increases of class sizes at all! That's what we need to do in San Francisco to achieve equity for ALL!

  3. "What San Francisco needs is something like what Marin has -- a foundation that gives money to ALL the public schools."

    There's a problem with that, though. SF has 100+ schools, ~70 at elementary level.

    Mill Valley, for example, has six schools in its elementary school district. Burlingame has a similar foundation, but again it has less than ten schools. It's easier to raise money district-wide where there are a small number of schoools.

  4. Too many schools in SF? Go to New York City's website ( and they have a "Fund for Public Schools" link and you can click on it and donate right now to help public schools. I think NYC has a few more schools than SF does, so that argument doesn't cut it I'm afraid. This is something that we can -- and should -- do to improve access to academic excellence for all. The budget cuts are going to destroy the schools with poor families and we need to do something about it!

  5. Cupertino SD and I think Palo Alto has something similar: a non profit targeting funds for schools. Here's the website to cupertino's effort:

  6. Marin county has 9 different school districts!

  7. oops. wrong link to cupertino schools foundation

  8. I vote for 9:25 as leader. What is involved in starting a foundation? There's got to be some lawyers on the blog???

  9. Hi all, thanks, I was the one who asked for this thread to be started - so appreciate.

    8:04 - so appreciate. What I want is an easy way to donate to low SES schools as a group without having to ask people to go to multiple websites, do lots of research.

    9:25 - YES. this is what I really think would be great, with one change - that the money doesn't go to the schools that are already successful (I know it's all relative) in fundraising but to say the bottom third, something like that.

    Obviously you don't then want to have schools try less hard on fundraising. But, somehow to give to the schools that need the most. Ideas on how to identify these?

    I think we could work with SFUSD on this. I have been really taken by how helpful they have been in the school process. It may take involvement with them. Clearly we should benchmark other communities.

    Thank you so much! Are there a small handful (at least) of people who would be willing to investigate this with me? Please let me know and I'll set up a time to meet for week of April 19 or whatever works well. I'm hoping that we could discuss:

    -- ways to benchmark other communities doing this well
    -- what it would take in SF
    -- how to identify who should get funds
    -- how to encourage, once we had a site, people to give (I have a lot of ideas here so this is not the biggest challenge but I think getting everyone's input would be great)
    -- anything else

    Thank you so much for your input and encouragement. I am such a big believer in making needs known and making it easy to help for those in the fortunate position that they can help.

  10. I think you could look at the SFUSD web site to see the amount of children getting aid and use that to determine which schools need the most help. I looked at Malcolm X and I think the percentage was somewhere around 90% of children there are receiving some form of aid. I think that is the worst I've seen in that statistic. El Dorado has about 80%, and one teacher that works there, posted that many of the children there come from really bad situations such as having one parent incarcerated, family violence, unstable home environment, etc.

  11. 8:59

    You said -"What San Francisco needs is something like what Marin has -- a foundation that gives money to ALL the public schools. That foundation, Kiddo, has raised so much money this year that there will be no layoffs of teachers, no increases of class sizes at all! That's what we need to do in San Francisco to achieve equity for ALL!"

    I'm for it and perhaps they should have an event like the Sherman people put on, but just to fundraise - a district-wide auction/fundraising event that would benefit schools that need it most.

    But let me also say that the reason we have all these lay offs is not just because of the deficit. UESF is launching a campaign to educate the public on the machinations going on at 555 vis-a-vis the budget cuts and lay offs. SFUSD is putting the onus of these cuts on teachers and kids and it has failed to cut out a lot of nonessential services or lower their salaries appropriately. SFUSD is trying to get SSCs to pass these massive cuts before they get educated on what's going on. Next week there is going to be a big campaign to get the public on board with making the appropriate cuts to education, cuts that single out classrooms last, not first.

  12. Our needy school teacher lists things we need on
    It is a great way to donate electronically and know what the school will get for your donation. You can look at projects specifically from No. Ca.

  13. SF has two organizations like this:

  14. definetly.. I like the two links in the previous post.

    I will now match any donations to my childs school to one of those organizations.

  15. 11:07 - thank you so much! This is exactly what I was looking for - we don't need to start anything anew. Thanks a lot - SF School Alliance seems like a great group and I've just joined. I will also try to learn more and spread the word about what they are doing. I was curious to see how much they have raised and donated and couldn't find that but it looks like a very impressive organization where they are doing a lot and also getting a lot of volunteer help.

    SF Ed Fund, the second link, also looks incredible. $300,000 (!) was raised at a lunch they just had, Tipping for Teachers. I haven't figured out where all the money goes but they did recently build a playground for Bret Harte Elementary, certainly a school in need. I love the Thank a Teacher page - lots of great ideas for anyone who has a few moments to give or a lot of time or money.

    Thank you again for saving us all time and helping figure out where to send resources - this was very inspiring to see what others are doing and to know how to help.

  16. I'm the Teacher Librarian at Martin Luther King Academic Middle School, which has 73% of its population receiving free and reduced lunch. We have a wonderful PTSA, but they aren't able to raise the kind of funds that other, more affluent schools do. So I love this idea, of course! I am constantly writing grants (DonorsChoose is one of my favorite sites -- 13 projects funded, and counting), but usually during my weekends and vacations, since every minute of the school day is full for me. Also, DonorsChoose does add some overhead costs, so it would be wonderful if you could find a way to donate directly to schools. We can always use money for library books, and all of the school librarians -- thanks to Prop H, most schools do have them! -- have "wish lists". Our science teachers always need supplies for science experiments. Also, we would love to have funding for field trips, even just enough for bus passes or snacks during free trips to city museums. We do fundraisers, but I'm not a big fan because I feel like we are asking our students and families to contribute money they may not have.

  17. 6:33 - thank you for this detail. I'm so moved. My husband had said he thought we should give to the schools who were "nearly" in the Rooftop, etc camp but based on this, gosh I am so moved to try to help the schools who can use more help for the basics. Every kid in our city should have support for field trips - there are so many costs to living in SF that they should get access to all the things field trips offer. Thank you again. Your note was so moving. I also love knowing more about the grants.

  18. Doesn't SF Alliance pay for salaries of some of the SFUSD leadership? I heard they funded positions to help Superintendent Garcia reorganize.

  19. To the poster here...I don't know whether you are still reading this post, but I'm a teacher at one of the lowest income schools in SF and have been working for several months now on a big project. I could definitely use some donations, or even some advice on how to write grants, fundraise, get businesses involved, etc. If you'd like to contact me, my e-mail is oa h 2 at yahoo . com (without the spaces, of course-I'd like to avoid getting spam).