Many people believe parents who send their children to private schools have deep pockets, making it easy for them to donate to various school programs.
But ask administrators and teachers from several local private faith-based schools and they'll tell you that's simply not true.
Sacrifices are made on both ends of the spectrum, and when it comes to donations, parents can only do so much.
"We find it difficult to qualify for grants because often they’re for non-religious schools. ... We also don’t really utilize government funding of any kind because there’s often requirements attached to it that our families are not comfortable with," explained Amy Walker, head of school at Heritage Oak School in Tehachapi. "We really can’t just walk into churches and start making announcements, that’s not the purpose of worship service time in a church."
One of the goals Heritage Oak has is to send five 11th and 12th grade students to Italy this summer. With a target goal of $20,000, relying solely on donations from parents, grandparents and alumni would be quite a hefty burden.
And it can't utilize the online classroom fundraising platform DonorsChoose because it is solely focused on assisting U.S. public school teachers, according to its website.
Now there is an option available for private faith-based schools to reach a larger number of possible donors.
Shift3 Technologies, a company from Fresno-based Bitwise, announced the launch of Beyond Measure on Nov. 6. Founded by John-Paul and Ingrid Lake, they want to give teachers and administrators at these schools the opportunity to seek donations from people across the country who are interested in supporting Christian schools.
"We’ve seen consistently a lot of the struggles and challenges they face in terms of raising money and paying their teachers well. Most private school teachers make about 30 to 50 percent less than their public school counterparts," John-Paul Lake explained.
He noted private school teachers, like public school teachers, buy supplies and other educational materials out of their own pockets. Additionally, private schools budget about $9,300 per student, while public schools spend around $16,000 per student.
Seeing this need locally through his and his wife's experience of sending their children to private schools made them want to help any way they can.
Each of the schools seeking donations on Beyond Measure's website are first verified so donors know they can trust where their money is headed. School administrators then add teachers to the site and approve projects that "make sure they represent the school well and that the things teachers are asking for align with the needs of the school," Lake explained.
So far four local private schools — Garces Memorial High School, Stockdale Christian School, Heritage Oak School and Country Christian School — have joined the site. Donations are being sought for a microscope, "magic sand" to help teach first graders phonics, maps and to replace seating in Garces' chapel. Even the study abroad trip to Italy has raised $500 since it was added to the site.
Lake also announced at the launch that if any new schools join the website within the next 40 days, or through Dec. 15, the Seedcore Foundation — another organization founded by the Lakes — will offer a matching donation up to $500.
Walker and other school administrators in attendance Nov. 6 said they're excited to see people come together from various parts of the county and country and help fill a need for private schools.
"It’s great for our facility to have a resource where they can pick and choose and personalize what they need in their classroom and reach a broader area of constituents that might want to restrict their gifts to an engineering program or ag program or the faith-based programs that we offer," Tonya Abbott, director of advancement at Garces Memorial High School, said.
To learn more and find a list of projects, visit https://gobeyondmeasure.org/