By Celeste Benzschawel
It’s that time of year again: school fundraising season. Centennial Elementary, like many schools across the country, relies heavily on fundraising and donations to keep their programs flourishing.
This year, the school is adopting a new approach, one administrators hope is effective as well as more equitable and inclusive.
“We really want to make sure that we’re being inclusive and equitable for all families, and we want everyone to be able to participate,” said Kelli Goodwin, the school’s parent-teacher association fundraising chair.
The name of the fundraising mechanism is Raise Craze: Fundraising Through Kindness. Raise Craze is a fundraising platform that focuses on serving, not selling, to raise funds for schools.
From Oct. 7-27, Centennial families are spreading acts of kindness and serving others to show their gratitude for donating. Their goal is to raise $40,000 and to spread 1,000 acts of kindness throughout the month.
The PTA is providing a number of opportunities for Centennial families to give back to the community, which will include hosting a food drive for Food Bank of the Rockies, writing personal thank you notes for Denver Firefighters, hosting a book drive for Denver Public Libraries, and decorating placemats for Meals-On-Wheels.
They are also writing personal get-well letters for the babies and their families in the NICU at Children’s Hospital Colorado, creating inspirational messages and drawings on the sidewalks with chalk, and more. The funds will be used for school enrichment programs, staffing, community events, and other necessities to keep the school thriving.
“There are some important school enrichment programs that our school has lost in recent years,” Goodwin said, “and those are really important to our families. So, we’re trying to raise money to get these programs back into the school.”
Additional funding will go toward classroom support staff and providing teachers an allowance to stock their classrooms with school supplies, Goodwin said. The fundraiser itself works by having students register through the Raise Craze platform, who will then spread awareness to their friends, families, neighbors, and communities through email.
“Even if somebody donates $5, but it came from a neighbor down the street, it’s just so appreciated and it takes the burden off of the immediate families to be funding all of these things,” Goodwin said. Centennial operates under an Expeditionary Learning (EL) curriculum, which means that all students are taught World Care Habits, said Robin Miller, a PTA committee member.
“Research from Raise Craze shows that the value children see in serving others is super contagious, so when you do something like this at the beginning of the year, most kids continue serving their communities long after the fundraiser ends,” Goodwin added.
The PTA will be incorporating their inclusive and equitable fundraising approach in other ways throughout the year, one of which is through their Crew Contribution Fund. It’s an anonymous giving platform where parents can donate any amount they’d like throughout the 10-month school year. ?
Their goal is to earn $15,000 through this fund. The school is also focusing on its corporate sponsorship, Miller said.
“We are running sponsorship packages for marketing for our local businesses. We’re trying to focus on local businesses, again, to pay it back as a big thank you,” Miller said. “We want to get their name out so people know how appreciative we are for the generous donations and that our families will become patrons of these businesses.”
In the end, Goodwin is hoping that Raise Craze will be successful enough to hold it year after year in order to bring back some of the programs they have lost, and to keep the school thriving and their kids flourishing.
The Raise Craze fundraiser is running from October 7-27. More information is available at my.raisecraze.com/give/a99gph1/.