Fundraising at Title I Schools
Updated: Feb 8
Are you a PTA, PTO or student group at a Title I school and wondering how to fundraise? This is a common question that we spent some time discussing on a recent podcast episode. This blog summarizes our tips.
Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act provides financial assistance to schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low income families. The goal of this financial support is to ensure that all children are able to meet the state academic standards. Due to the high number of low income families, parent teacher groups at Title I schools are often hesitant to ask their families for fundraising dollars. Arguably, however, these are the school most in need of those fundraising dollars so we wanted to share some ideas for fundraising that have worked at other Title I schools.
Don't Leave Out Your School Community
This may be a bit controversial, but I've seen it echoed a number of times. Just because you may have families in your school community that are low income does not mean that they don't set aside dollars for giving to their children's education. And so, you, as a PTA or PTO leader, shouldn't make assumptions about how people have chosen to allocate the income that they do have. Therefore, you should still ask. Make the ask, share that you're fundraising. If people can give, they will. You don't have to put unnecessary pressure, but definitely give that option out there.
Rely More Heavily on the Broader Community
There are many businesses in your local neighborhood - the broader school community - that want to help. Here are the top ideas:
Grocery Store Partnerships. A grocery store partnership allows your school to get a percentage of sales from a local grocer. A lot of the large chains have specific programs, or you can work with any smaller stores directly.
Service Organization Partnerships. Attend a rotary club, or other service organization, meeting to meet business leaders who are looking for ways to help the local community. Making those connections out there in your community can really enhance the giving back to your school.
A Community Cookout. Host a community cookout in a park, or if you can't have social gatherings in these times, a "pick up a plate" community event. Find someone from your school or neighborhood that is a great cook. That chef will cook up an evening or will cook up some dishes that people can purchase, whether it is $10 for a plate of barbecue or $5 for some cake.
Offer Classes. A school is a place full of teachers. Those teachers have skills to teach the community. You can ask the teachers, or even some parents in your school, to put on a class for the local community, whether it's a language class, a sewing class, an art class, there's a number of different options there. But putting on those classes, advertising them to the local community, again, can drive funds back to the school.
Add an Online Element to Your Fundraising
Whether it is a passive fundraiser or a increased view of donations on your website, you can really impact your program with an online presence. Starting up an online store of some sort, whether Etsy, Spiritwear/Uniforms/Apparel, or Amazon, there are lots of options that have a minimal upfront time investment and then remain open 24/7/365. Finally, adding a donation button to your website or directing people to where they can make donations, will allow any interested parties to donate at their convenience.
We know that Title I fundraising can be challenging, and especially over the last year where a pandemic has really had an impact on the economy. We want to enable all schools to be able to fundraise and support the programming at their schools so that we hope some of these tips will be useful to you. They came from other PTA members that are in your shoes, and we wanted to share them out with you. If you have any ideas that you'd like to share with us, we would be happy to hear them, so please do reach out. And good luck in your fundraising.