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Fund ’Em and Leave ’Em

Bronx Classroom Tales

Fund ’Em and Leave ’Em The Bill Gates money runs out this year. I don’t know if this fact as begun to hit the school yet but it’s hitting me. 


Small schools around the country get sponsored by a variety of non-government organizations bolstered largely by the Gates Foundation. We are one of these schools. Since our opening three years ago, we have a been able to offer overnight college trips to every student, mentors for teachers and our principal, and a music and theater program, all because of our association with one of these organizations. 


The thing is, they only sponsor you until you graduate a class. The theory is that in those four years, you will have built the capacity to raise a comparable amount of cash through other resources. Guess what. We have not built that capacity.


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So what happens to a school that has about $100 grand less a year in their budget when they already feels strapped?  Answer: It doesn’t provide as strong an education. 

It would make more sense to fund a grant writer with some of the funds, which we did try for a month or so, but how sustainable are a collection of temporary grants particularly in an unstable economy? It says something when people with power (money) recognize that schools need better funding to be successful – thus the creation of organizations like the one that funds us – so why pull the plug? 


For now, we can part with mentors – many of them just seem to putz around anyway looking for something to do or someone to talk to – but what about music and theatre? As a small school, we can’t afford permanent teachers for both. To maintain these programs, we’ll have to let something else go, which we can’t really afford to do either. If you were to walk through my school you would not think, “Jeez, these folks have had some money to throw around.”           


My points:

  • The encouraging one: The Gates Foundation and other organizations that support education are wonderful and they get it. Investing in young people’s education has near infinite potential for payback. Inventors and problem solvers are somewhere in those classrooms.


  • The logic-challenging one: If you justify funding schools to make them more successful, how do you justify taking away funding and expecting them to perform as successfully?


  • The bitter one: Don’t leave us Bill Gates! What did we do wrong?! Don’t leave!

What funding problems is your school facing? Have you come up with any solutions to help sustain your school? Share in the comments section!


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