While schools across the nation differ in their educational missions and tactics, one common value is the desire for schools to integrate with their local communities. Many studies on school-community partnerships outline the symbiotic and mutually beneficial nature of their relationship. Collaboration, instilling the notion of service among students and hosting creative school fundraising events are some significant factors that contribute to a vibrant school – community partnership.
DoJiggy interviewed two schools that implemented this concept with great success. The outcome was not only achieving financial success by raising donations, but also providing a fulfilling learning experience for the students and an inspiring recognition of the community. The schools also proved an important point; that fundraising goals for school initiatives can still be met with a percentage of the fundraising income also infused into the community.
The Woods Academy is an independent Catholic school in Maryland whose mission is to “provide a learning environment and school community that promotes personal integrity, respect for the uniqueness of each individual, a spirit of equality, and a commitment to service.” Last Spring, for their annual Owlathon fundraiser, the parent teacher organization along with the school identified a specific need: the purchase of a bus for field trips, sports events and service learning. They also decided that choosing two organizations to support with a percentage of the fundraising, would really drive home the service oriented emphasis on giving back to community while focusing on a very tangible goal for the school.
The student council began to research possibilities and selected a local organization close to the school, The Greentree Shelter, as well as the global organization World Central Kitchen. The organizations shared clear information on their initiatives with the school and the shelter actually met with the students directly. The students not only felt individually involved in creating awareness and making a difference, but with the use of online fundraising software they created autonomy and empowerment in their fundraising as well. The school raised over $30,000, giving 25% of the earnings to the organizations.
When principal, Joseph Powers, spoke with the students afterwards he found that their favorite part of the event, second to dunking the principal in the dunk tank of course, was that the Owlathon helped people. The students really understood the “why” behind their fundraising efforts, and they had fun in the meantime. Woods Academy was able to purchase the bus they determined to fund as well as investing in both the local and global community. It was a multi-faceted success.
St. Timothy’s Lutheran School is another trend-setter in the ideology of giving back. Their spiritually motivated core values indicate an inherent component of service that is implemented in the curriculum. The spring fundraiser, “Go For The Green” walk-a-thon, couldn’t have been a better example of this trait. The fundraiser was billed as a community and school event, organized in tandem with the local organization, Our City Forest. The funds were directed to new school curriculum, technology, and scholarships with 10% of the proceeds going to Our City Forest for support in teaching the greater community of students about conservation in urban ecosystems. The entire event was geared towards raising awareness, and their logo was “every tree counts”.
Through this collaboration, citizens both within the school and in the community learned important information about their surrounding environment while raising over $15,000 for the schools specific needs. It also highlighted the conscious efforts of the students to raise money for a local cause rather than merely accruing donations. By utilizing an online fundraising website the school was able to broaden the net of potential donors and facilitate easier communication both from the students and their parents in raising awareness for the community.
The essence of citizenship is a core concept in virtually any school creed. These schools have funneled that essence into action by proving the existence of abundance in collaborative efforts. We commend them on their example.
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