Fifteen years ago, when the State of California budget cuts threatened to limit K-12 students’ access to extra-curricular subjects like music and art, a group of concerned parents decided they wanted more for their children.
Along with the Del Mar Union School District, the parents worked to establish the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation (DMSEF), a not-for-profit organization whose sole function would be to raise money for credentialed music, art, technology, physical education and science teachers for each of the eight schools in the district.
While California schools are mandated to include these subjects in their regular curricula, the budget cuts had left these areas up to the classroom teacher to cover, cutting the credentialed musicians, artists and PE teachers from the payroll. Since 2000, DMSEF has helped fill in the gap where the state finances could not.
Funding the extracurricular programs for all eight schools in the district is not cheap, however. For the thirty-four specialized teachers employed, the DMSEF raises over $1 million of philanthropic money annually to cover its portion of the bill. To do so, every school in the district holds annual auctions, Jog-A-Thons and donation drives, the proceeds of which are collected by DMSEF and equally dispersed to each school for the specialized teachers’ salaries.
Last year, after two schools in the district had great success using PledgeStar online fundraising for their Jog-A-Thons, the foundation’s board members were convinced that using PledgeStar would be a smart choice to meet their ambitious 2015 goal of $2 million.
Parent volunteer Dave Wojtkowski said that not only did the district substantially increase its revenues from the Jog-A-Thons using PledgeStar this year, but the man hours spent tracking and managing the monies collected for his school alone were drastically reduced thanks to the online system. “When we were doing all paper fundraising we spent at least twenty hours gathering information before the event and then compiling it after. Now we don’t do any of that. With PledgeStar, the work is maybe three hours total…I would say PledgeStar is money well-spent.”