Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation announces $100,000 donation in fundraising campaign
The Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation got a big boost in its fundraising efforts today, just as it prepares to wrap up its four-month campaign to drum up an additional $1 million cash for Ann Arbor Public Schools programs.
While it's unlikely the foundation will meet its goal, it announced a $100,000 donation from the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop today and said it's working on a $50,000 matching grant. In total, the campaign has raised $300,000 and will wrap up July 31.
“I think we have made a great first foray into major gift fundraising for private funding of public education in Ann Arbor,” Executive Director Wendy Correll said, adding AAPSEF usually brings in about $200,000 annually.
The foundation, formed in 1991, has traditionally focused on smaller-scale fundraising for the district. But that changed with the failure of the countywide schools enhancement millage last fall. In April, AAPSEF launched One Million Reasons.
“The possibility of losing between $12 (million) and $20 million in one academic year is very significant,” Correll said. “We decided this was an important thing to do to maintain the quality and reputation of the programs in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.”
With the greater effort came greater scrutiny.
An AnnArbor.com article in June showed the AAPSEF spent more money on overhead than it supplied to the Ann Arbor school district in each of the last two fiscal years.
For example, 47 percent of the money it raised from donors went to overhead last school year for things like staff salaries, printing and postage, tax records show. Almost a third was spent on grants, while the rest went to the foundation’s fund balance.
At that time, Correll said the group was working to contain costs, but a nonprofit organization requires professionals to run it and keep it honest.
Today, Correll said the organization has promised donors to keep overhead costs associated with One Million Reasons funds at 18 percent or lower. She said the article was only a partial snapshot of the organization, but declined to elaborate.
The money raised in the organization’s ongoing campaign will be put toward programs at risk of being cut following the failure of the millage, Correll said. Programs like the world language in the K-12 district’s elementary schools could get a funding boost in the next academic year, she said.
Additionally, the foundation intends to track the success of the programs it funds. World language students could be tested for proficiency, for example.
“The goal of the organization is to help all students in the Ann Arbor Public Schools achieve their highest possible level,” she said.
AnnArbor.com's David Jesse contributed to this report.