Only 18 of the city’s public schools—less than 3 percent of some 600 elementary and high schools—have parent or community affinity groups that have raised more than $50,000 in any of the past three years. There’s a vast difference in bottom-line impact between such well-heeled and connected groups and the parent organizations in most other schools.
The PTO at Owen Scholastic Academy sponsors after-school activities for students and their families every month, and at the end of the year they host events to congratulate students and teachers for doing good work. Sometimes these events make a profit, but those proceeds are ploughed back into other fun things to do, never spent on supplies, teachers or equipment for the school, which members believe should be covered by public education funding.
Corporate-school partnerships are being driven to the forefront of donor cultivation strategy at the Renaissance Schools Fund, which aims to raise $50 million for startup grants. Two years into the initiative, Renaissance Schools Fund has passed the halfway mark. It is making headway by focusing most of its resources on matchmaking new school operators directly with donors, and taking a backseat once those relationships are made.
Problems with violence and discipline are nothing new at Kennedy High, says senior Dan Zaragoza, who participated in last month’s student-led protest for better security at the Garfield Ridge school. This year’s freshmen, including transfer students from the attendance areas of schools that closed, were especially disrespectful and unruly, he says.