The Children’s School Meets $100k Fundraising Challenge!
The Children’s School has raised an astounding $100,000 for its Covid-19 Families Fund over the past five months.
When Covid-19 forced schools to send kids home for remote learning back in March, TCS, like many private schools in the area, faced several grim realities: The pandemic shut down the school’s annual benefit in April – a fundraiser that traditionally covered school program costs that exceeded tuition income. Covid-19 also put fall enrollment at risk. At the same time, the pandemic called on the school to invest in new safety measures, new technology, as well as a remote curriculum, while increasing the workload on teachers and staff.
But the biggest threat Covid-19 posed was to the school’s sense of “community” – the feeling of mutual sharing, connection, and support highly valued by TCS families, teachers, and staff.
“We’re a small school where virtually every teacher knows every student by their first name, and the bonds among students, and between students and their teachers are very close. Our parents are also usually highly involved in our school activities, and enjoy the friendships they make with each other. That sense of close-knit community is reinforced by the values we share around learning, support for our children’s development, and the mission of progressive education,” explains Pamela Freese, PhD, director of administration at The Children’s School.
"We're In This Together!"
“We were pretty sure we could make it through the crisis, but what hurt the most was the thought that some of our children might not be able to come back in the Fall if a parent lost their job, or if their families were financially affected by Covid-19,” she says.
That’s why last spring, the board, faculty, and families at The Children’s School swung into action. They committed themselves to a simple goal: No student who wanted to stay enrolled in The Children’s School would be turned away based on the negative financial impact Covid 19 may have had on their family’s income.
The TCS Board had set aside $50k from its reserves to help with meeting the budget demands and shortfalls Covid 19 might create. In May, a family stepped forward and pledged to match up to $50k of whatever the school could raise in additional donations over the summer. The donor family expressed their wish to keep the community together and support other families struggling to keep their children enrolled. “The donors’ intention was to communicate to every family in the school that we are all in this together,” said Ms. Freese.
Over the summer, 33 donors contributed $25,155 – a huge amount for such a small school, but not quite enough to take advantage of the full $50,000 matching pledge. “We were happy with what we had raised, but then flabbergasted when another family stepped forward at the end of our drive and donated the entire remaining amount to bring us to our $50k goal!” says Ms. Freese.
Helping Students, Teachers, and Families
Over the summer, TCS directors had one-on-one conversations with each family, working together with each one with the goal of meeting that family’s unique situation with a tuition package it could afford, to keep the maximum number of children returning to school in August. Thanks to the TCS Covid-19 Families Fund, the school was able to offer flexible options, such as:
· Waiving enrollment deposits
· Waiving August and September Tuition
· Extending tuition payment time
· Waiving application fees
· Expanding financial aid
In addition, the school was able to increase salaries for its teaching faculty as well as replenish some of the reserves that had been depleted since the start Covid 19 pandemic. It was also able to offer more flexible tuition and financial aid options to new families seeking first time enrollment.
Grateful for Our Strong School Community!
“We’re so very grateful and deeply moved by the support of all of our donors during these challenging times. We are especially grateful to the original matching donor family, as well as the generous family that helped us achieve our matching goal at the finish line. Both families have chosen to remain anonymous,” says Ms. Freese.
As school began this year, enrollment remained strong, and the school could meet the tremendous challenges of its new hybrid and remote learning options with less stress and a renewed sense of shared commitment and support. Pamela Freese observes: “It’s so heart-warming to be part of a ‘good news’ story in these strange times, and to know that our school’s commitment to community can weather even the toughest challenges. It’s amazing what we can do when we pull together to support our children!”
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The Children’s School, a private non-profit school offering progressive education, fosters a love of learning and critical thinking skills through an age-appropriate curriculum based on the children’s unfolding curiosity. Small classes emphasize project-based learning in a relaxed environment that supports the achievement of all local and state curriculum goals. The school chooses ongoing individual assessment of each child’s learning progress and potential versus standardized tests or letter grades. The curriculum incorporates a social justice focus with the goal of creating active participants in democratic society.