This spring, as California schools face yet another round of budget reductions, some are giving this fundraising formula a try: Oakland pride + a fitness challenge + a way to help a school in need.
Dagmar Serota was in a meeting at the Sankofa Academy library when she noticed the bare shelves. The few books that were on them, she said, were old and outdated.
Like other schools in the district, the North Oakland elementary can’t afford a library clerk, let alone a librarian, to manage the collection and lend books to the children.
Then Serota thought about Urban Promise Academy, a middle school in Fruitvale, and the money it was able to raise last year through the Oakland Running Festival. She thought of all the excitement surrounding the marathon, and the fact that people seem to like running for a cause.
Fast forward a few weeks, and we have Run for Sankofa.
Organizers hope to recruit at least 100 runners to raise $100 each for Sankofa’s library. Oakland Schools Foundation, which set up the website, is handling the donations. The school will issue wrist bands to the participating runners and set up a water (and cheering) station for them at 28th and Myrtle streets on March 27. Serota said she will recruit and coordinate volunteers to run the library once it’s stocked.
Above photo by Hasain Rasheed
Another athletic fundraiser, Ride for a Reason, is back again this year — with a 100-mile (or 60-mile) bicycle route to Sacramento. The ride’s organizers aim to raise $15,000 each for Claremont Middle School and Oakland Technical High School. The May 7 event is a political statement as well. The riders want to call attention to the toll that years of budget cuts have taken on California’s public schools.
“Over the past three years, state funding for K-12 education in California has been reduced by almost 20 percent,” the website said. “California currently ranks 45th in per pupil spending and has the highest teacher-to-student ratio in the nation. There is a crisis in funding for education in California.
… In Oakland, funding cuts have hit our schools especially hard. At Claremont Middle School and Oakland Technical High School, many elective classes and enrichment programs remain only as a result of parent and community fundraising.”
The more money the state takes away from public schools, the more pressure there is to backfill the cuts through local fundraising. Which means that schools that aren’t able to do so end up on the losing end, without the things we took for granted in public schools not too long ago.