As the holiday season hastily approaches and the spirit of giving fills the air, we wanted to highlight some simple ways you can play an active role in improving your local school community. No matter the size, location, or funding of your institution or district, it is likely they would joyfully welcome additional support from parents and community members, whether in the form of volunteer time, monetary contributions, or something else entirely. Just in time for the yearly giving season, here are our picks for the easiest and best ways to help support your local schools:
Volunteering your time to tutor struggling students, chaperone field trips, or lend a hand in a library or school office is one of the most powerful ways to support your local district. Many elementary, middle, and high schools welcome community volunteers and often require no prior experience or training. Volunteering is a free and personally fulfilling endeavor that offers instant gratification as you see the results of your hard work firsthand (generally in the form of smiles and genuine “thank you’s” from students and staff). Those with extra time on their hands- volunteering is an excellent way to participate in helping improve your school community. Reach out to your local schools directly to learn more about available opportunities.
Tissue boxes, #2 pencils, glue, and more relatively inexpensive items are critical classroom necessities often in high demand and low supply, leading many teachers to pay out of pocket for them as the school year goes on. Want to become a teacher’s best friend? Contact them and ask what supplies they are in need of- they will undoubtedly have no shortage of suggestions and will be incredibly thankful for donations of any size or value. Both educators and students can attest to the fact that it can be difficult to properly learn in an environment that lacks key supplies- even a donation of $10-20 worth of items can make a huge difference in enhancing classroom morale and teacher efficacy.
Attend School Board Meetings
Many school districts have a board of education policy-making body dedicated to establishing policies, approving and overseeing budgets, and advocating on behalf of educators and students. Actively attending these meetings can be a highly effective way to have a greater say in your local school community, connect and befriend others who share a passion in improving your district, and learn about additional volunteer and service opportunities. Contact your school’s front office via phone or email to ask for more information on attending school board meetings and events.
Box Tops/Grocery Store Credits
As we mentioned in our last blog article “An Ode to Box Tops,” General Mills’ Box Tops for Education program is a simple, highly effective way for schools to raise thousands of dollars each year in funding by simply collecting coupon-like Box Tops found on many common grocery items. Since the conception of the program in 1996, schools across the U.S. have earned over $780 million dollars in funding thanks to Box Tops for Education- perhaps the best part is that schools can use the funding at their complete discretion based on their unique individual needs. On a similar note, some grocery stores offer their own programs which allow shoppers to turn in their grocery receipts and the store will “give back” a portion of their earnings to the customer’s chosen school. Get in touch with your local school’s administrative office to see if they participate in the Box Tops for Education or similar grocery credit-related funding programs.
Reach Out and Ask
Our final suggestion could prove to be the most effective of all, and that is simply reaching out to principals, teachers, and administrators to find out what they need. From an outsider’s perspective, it can oftentimes be challenging to identify a school’s most pertinent needs. Perhaps volunteers are desperately needed to help coach an after school sports team or direct a school play? Or maybe classroom snacks are in short supply and teachers need donations from parents? If anyone knows what the moment-to-moment needs of an individual school are, it’s the folks working there full time- reaching out to staff and simply asking “how can I help?” could prove to be tremendously valuable in helping you find the best ways to support and improve your local school.