- An upscale auction that's been part of the annual Naples Winter Wine Festival in Collier County, Florida, since 2001, has dedicated more than $40 million for early education initiatives through the Naples Children and Education Foundation, according to the Hechinger Report.
- A significant portion of those funds go to support early childhood education for disadvantaged preschoolers who are often from homes where English is a second language. Since 2003, the foundation has donated $13.7 million to the Guadalupe Center, an educational nonprofit that serves nearby Immokalee and its low-income, disadvantaged preschoolers and youth.
- Because of the extra funding, the Guadalupe Center is able to pay preschool teachers upwards of $40,000 a year, offer music and art classes, help provide health and dental care, use smart boards in classrooms and provide additional enrichment opportunities to preschool children. Together, these efforts have helped close the educational gap between high-income students and low-income students in the area to a difference of just 10%.
The money raised in this effort is phenomenal and shows the impact large amounts of funding can make in closing equity gaps. While millions of dollars in philanthropic or grant funding makes little impact in the grand scheme of education, it makes a tremendous difference in organizations that serve a few hundred students.
However, most schools do not have access to fundraising efforts on this scale. They are more likely to see funds raised for specific projects as a way to supplement what they receive from federal, state and local sources. Education grants, PTA fundraising efforts and crowdfunding are popular ways to get access additional funds that provide schools with resources that they would not otherwise have. Involving students in creating grant applications and promoting fundraising efforts has a value as well.
However, in many areas, fundraising efforts can actually increase the gap between the rich and poor. Parents in affluent areas have more time, financial resources and connections to help raise funds for their child’s school. What is more unusual — and more valuable in the long-run — is efforts in which more affluent families raise money to support the educational efforts of their less affluent neighbors. Connecting with these more affluent groups and businesses in or near your school district may make the biggest direct impact of all.