Question: Helping Less Fortunate Members of our School Community
Our public elementary school is about 30% below poverty level, but we also have a significant population of middle class and upper class. We would like ideas of how we can help those kids and their families who are struggling financially right now. Does anyone know of some established programs out there? Or perhaps your school developed their own program?
Asked by fjrogers1
Community AdviceKHodge writes:
There is a social worker/guidance counselor at our school. We also have school uniforms. We have established a uniform/backpack/school supply fund that is available to the counselor to use. I don't know all the mechanics, it's between the treasurer and the counselor and most of the rest is kept confidential for privacy and dignity reasons. Our school is Title 1, I don't recall the percentage particularly well. I think the key in whatever you do is to keep in mind dignity as the (one of the?) highest priorities.
Community Advicefjrogers1 writes:
Thanks for the advice. We were doing something similar (using the counselor as middle man) but it wasn't through the PTA -- just individuals and word-of-mouth. I wasn't sure if it was ok to use PTA funds.
Community AdviceKHodge writes:
To know if it's okay to use PTA (or any non-profit) funds, you really need to go back to your bylaws and see what the purpose statement for the group is. It's probably more important if you're group has non-profit status, but really that's what bylaws are for once you get past all the tedious ammending and all - it's not to make your meetings mechanical, but help you figure out these kinds of questions. (Forgive me if you knew that already and this sounds preachy :) ). If your purpose includes something like "supporting the educational environment," or "supporting children at XYZ school" etc - then you're probably just fine. It's probably even safer if its particularly supporting the families thruogh school suppplies. You can make a credible argument that the assistance helps kids come to school ready to learn, or helps them come to school at all [think of extreme poverty situations where the children may not come to school for lack of adequate/clean clothing even if it's just because the family doesn't want to be humiliated in sending their child in that condition.] Of course, I'm not a lawyer, or IRS person, but that's how I see it. I also think it's important community building. It shows the PTA/PTO is there for all students and not a particular segment of the population. Especially if you don't make a show of it (which it doesn't sound like you are).
Community AdviceRadmomincali writes:
Something out of the box that we did last year was hold a "Swap 'til you drop" program. With kids getting larger all of the time and many families having trouble making ends meet, we asked families to go through their closets and donate clothes that were too small for them. This donation gave those same families entry to the swap. Once all clothes were received (we included schools throughout our district), we organized them by size and opened the door to our swap. Families came in and took what they needed without having to spend any money.
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