Many school budgets don't always cover the costs of everything students and teachers need. Fundraisers throughout the year can help, but with many schools learning remotely this fall, school leaders are reimagining how to raise money.
"This year was even easier because you could be in your pajamas and you could really be with your whole family. Our galas tend to be kind of fancy. We all have dinner and drinks and dancing and all the things we usually do. This year, we flipped all of that on its head and took a little bit of a quirky approach," said Tracey Carson, the Public Information Officer for Mason City Schools in Ohio.
Carson says the Mason Schools Foundation Gala normally raises $100,000 each year in order to provide grants for teachers. This year, the gala went virtual in order to raise those crucial funds. Organizers were able to still raise $40,000.
"Fundraisers and things from your PTOs and foundations ending up filing in that gap for all of those things that we find that spark and innovation. That really incredible idea that hasn't yet turned into a big enough priority that it's going to get a line item in a school budget somewhere but will really make a difference," said Carson.
A number of school districts say it's still important for schools to hold fundraisers during remote learning.
"I think in many ways, we’re still working hard to stay connected to our families and to our kids. Whether that's the virtual parent meeting, we have to talk about homework or talk about social emotional wellness with our kids right now, or it's that fundraising activity that pulls us together around an action of some kind," said Kelly Avants, Chief Communication Officer for Clovis Unified School District in California.
Avants says it's critical for school communities to build strong relationships with their families during remote learning.
Some of the funds being raised will make up for money that was lost when schools shut down in March.
"With those events that were canceled in the spring and trying to recoup costs for some of our performing arts programs that are already in arrears because they lost money, whether it was about an event that couldn’t be held that usually brings in revenue that funds extras in a program or in general of recouping the expenses they already fronted and then they had to cancel a production or shorten a show run," said Avants.
From virtual fun runs to restaurant take out to benefit a local school, educators say any small donations can make a big impact on school campuses.