Got donations? Lodi Unified School District's new community foundation may be able to help.
Giving Opportunities to Kids — or GOT Kids, for short — was founded to bridge the financial gap between co-curricular activities and the 10 percent per-site cut made to activities outside of the regular classroom but sponsored by the school. In addition to sports, this includes clubs such as speech and debate, band and academic competitions such as Academic Pentathlon. These historically have been activities the district struggles to fund.
"(Now) we're not taking away the things they're really into and keep them coming to school," Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer said of students.
What does this mean to me?
Parents and other community members will be able to donate money and items for specific projects such as athletics, academic teams, visual and performing arts, classroom supplies, technology and scholarships, and determined by the board of directors.
However, the district will still be able to accept donations for a specific school or for a specific purpose.
"The creation of a foundation does not mean that someone cannot make a school donation," Nichols-Washer said.
Where did the idea come from?
The idea to create a community foundation first publicly came up in the spring, when trustees discussed eliminating sports and other co-curricular activities to save money.
It received board consensus in May, and official plans began last week with trustees providing direction regarding the number of members to sit on the board of directors. There will be 11, with six of the members hailing from the school board.
The bylaws and other official documents are expected to be approved next month. Staff is still working on creating a membership slate, according to Assistant Superintendent Art Hand.
Following that, the district will look to fill positions of the board of directors.
Has it worked elsewhere?
Other schools and districts have created similar foundations that have proven successful.
The Santa Rosa High School Foundation, for example, funds approximately $125,000 in academic enhancement requests, scholarships and student programs annually. A fifth of that amount comes from private donors.
Each month, the foundation fills grant requests made by the lone campus, according to founding member Douglas Pavese.
It has purchased sports uniforms and non-academic books. Since its inception in 1988, the foundation's endowment fund totals more than $250,000 with the receipt of estate and memorial funds.
To be successful, Pavese recommends that new foundations draw a diverse group of board members — ideally 25 within three years — and ensure that a majority are not educators, since they may not be fully in touch with schoolwide needs, he said.
Now a retired investment banker, Pavese has helped launch foundations as far away as Florida.
Closer to home, parents in Stockton's Lincoln Unified School District created a similar foundation and raised $10,000 to save cutting sixth-grade science camp in 2009. The foundation remains active, according to the California Secretary of State.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.