Seattle's Child

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Redefining PTSA school fundraising

Building a brighter future

Why redefining PTSA school fundraising is critical

The Southeast Seattle Schools Fundraising Alliance (SESSFA) supports one big and bold idea: that school PTAs should raise funds together and distribute them equitably based on demographics. In doing that, the Alliance is helping improve students’ lives in 17 schools in the south end of the city.  

By prioritizing schools with higher proportions of students of color, English Language Learners (ELL), homeless students, and special education students when we distribute the funds we raise, we are actively reducing inequities and paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive future for all students. 

Why pool efforts and resources? 

We have realized that traditional PTA and PTSA school fundraising models only deepen existing disparities, leaving behind schools and students who need the most support. Pooling resources requires us to have empathy and understanding of others’ needs — and to think beyond ourselves. 

It also motivates us to work together. By cooperating to create a more equitable educational landscape, we strengthen the youth of our Southeast Seattle community. 

Creating equitable distribution 

The crux of the SESSFA model lies in our equitable distribution of funds. By allocating a larger cut to schools with higher percentages of students of color, ELL, homeless, and special education students, we tackle head-on the systemic inequities that have persisted in our education system for far too long. 

Our goal is not to take away from other schools but to ensure that those who have historically received less support or no previous fundraising are enriched. Each PTSA is empowered to implement programs and support services that cater to the specific needs of its students. 

My decision to get involved 

As a parent of three Southeast Seattle public school kids, I am motivated by the disparities in opportunities and resources students face based on their zip codes. Traditional school funding models are broken, and the circumstances of that brokenness should not limit a child’s potential. Collective community action can correct local, state, and national systemic failures. 

It’s not just about writing a check; it’s about fostering a community of caring parents, educators, and advocates who share the vision of a truly equitable world. By supporting our children within the public education system and collaborating, we become a potent force that goes beyond our own school boundaries, enriching the lives of all children. 

A stand for all children

Involvement matters. But not just at our own children’s schools. Often, we get caught up in our daily routines, unaware of the vast disparities between schools just blocks away. It is crucial to inquire about the reasons behind differences in support, like reading specialists, after-school activities, art teachers, parental involvement, etc. Our advocacy for equitable education sends a powerful message to our children. We stand for justice, compassion, and fairness for our children and all children. 

It is okay to be uncomfortable 

Experiencing discomfort through this movement has been enlightening. It compels me to question the status quo and listen actively. I am uncomfortable with the unequal opportunities for all kids. I am uncomfortable with enrichment disparities among schools due to varying abilities to fundraise. And I am uncomfortable with inadequate state and national funding of our schools. 

When we are uncomfortable, we can ask why and dig deeper. By listening and coming together, we can challenge what has been. 

Why should you get involved? 

The transformation we seek is not a solitary endeavor. It demands the collective effort of parents, educators, and community members. Whenever possible, let’s lend our time, skills, and resources to create a more equitable and inclusive educational system that aligns with our cherished values. 

When we unite behind a common goal, impact is amplified, and positive change ripples throughout the entire community. 

The SESSFA model of rethinking PTSA school fundraising is a call to action for a more just and inclusive future. Through collective pooling of efforts and funds and equitable allocation based on specific demographics, we can actively break down barriers to success and create opportunities for historically underserved students. 

As a parent, I find no greater mission to embrace.

 Meghan Bedell is a parent of three kids and a site leader for the Southeast Seattle Schools Fundraising Alliance.

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About the Author

Meghan Bedell