In late 2012, San Rafael elementary schools used a nearly $40,000 check to pay for a slew of new musical instruments, instructional materials and teacher training to provide a much-needed jolt to its music programs.
That check came via Heads Up, the 31-year-old San Rafael City Schools Education Foundation, one of an array of private educational foundations that have become the ever-expanding safety net for public education in Marin. But the origin of that check was from SchoolsRule-Marin, a partnership between the fundraising foundations of individual school districts that sought to even the playing field among them, some of which benefit from more affluence around them than others.
SchoolsRule-Marin dished out $220,000 in late October 2012 and hopes to distribute $1 million in October 2013. Unlike those district-specific foundations, whose donors are primarily parents and local businesses, SchoolsRule-Marin targets “larger, county-serving companies and foundations that don’t have a connection to one individual district or town,” according to Trish Garlock, the founder of the Kiddo foundation in Mill Valley and the chair of SchoolsRule-Marin.
The organization received a $25,000 contribution from Bank of Marin in a ceremony at the bank’s headquarters in Novato Wednesday.
“We are so appreciative of Bank of Marin for their very generous gift,” Garlock said. “It shows their commitment to education in Marin and it’s a big gift. Our whole purpose is to provide resources for all children in Marin equally.”
Bank of Marin officials said its education-related charitable contributions amount to more than 35 percent of its total corporate giving. Its SchooleRule donation will go towards technology, art and literacy programs.
SchoolsRule officials noted the impact that large gifts like this one can have on other potential donors.
“We are very grateful for this significant contribution from Bank of Marin for what it can provide for students and how it can serve as a catalyst for other local businesses to join this worthy cause,” Marin Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke said in a statement.
SchoolsRule-Marin distributes its funding evenly across all schools on a per-student basis. That strategy is meant as a counterweight to the imbalance in fundraising prowess of the foundations of individual school districts. For instance, during the 2010-2011 school year, Mill Valley’s Kiddo raised $2.2 million, while Heads Up, the San Rafael Public Education Foundation, raised $197,000, according to its tax filings with the IRS.
“We chose SchoolsRule-Marin for this contribution because they have developed an equitable process for distributing funds evenly across all schools, something that was very important to us,” Bank of Marin CEO Russ Colombo said in a statement.
The funds are distributed to the school foundations, and if no foundation exists, the funds go directly to the school district.
Garlock declined to comment on SchoolsRule-Marin’s progress toward its $1 million fundraising goal, saying there were a number of major events planned for later this year.
“But we’re certainly a lot further along than we were at this time last year when we were just getting our feet under us,” she said.
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