Innovation in School Funding: Advancing Equity in St. Paul Public Schools

Innovation in School Funding: How AdoptAClassroom.org Partners with School Districts

In February 2019, we launched the AdoptAClassroom.org School Program to enable principals and other school administrators to fundraise for school-wide projects and initiatives that benefit all students at their school. District approval is required for schools to participate in the program, and we worked closely with school districts to design and pilot the program. Our goal is to provide innovative approaches to school funding.

When we met with officials from the St. Paul Public School District (SPPS), we asked for examples of things they wished they could do in the district that there was not funding for. They immediately mentioned The Innocent Classroom, a transformative teacher training program that helps teachers work with students who have experienced trauma and racial bias. Teachers who had been through the training were very enthusiastic about it, reporting significant improvements in student behavior and academic performance as a result of their improved relationships with students. Many more teachers wanted the training, but the cost was a barrier, particularly as the program was most effective when done on a school-wide basis, and sustained over time.

The Benjamin E. Mays IB World School in St. Paul had completed two of the three phases of the Innocent Classroom training. The school serves nearly 500 students in pre-K through 5th grade, most of whom are ethnic minorities from a low-income area of St. Paul. 88% qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. Principal Kirk Morris (pictured above) wanted to fully integrate the Innocent Classroom methods into all teaching practice and behavior supports at the school, with a goal of reducing out-of-classroom referrals to zero. To complete and implement the final phase of the program he needed $30,000.

With the district’s approval, we worked with principal Morris to create an AdoptAClassroom.org fundraising page for the school. Through this page, individual donors and businesses can donate directly to the school to support its fundraising efforts. We shared the page with local donors and business partners, communicating the importance of the project and why it deserved their support. Within a few months we raised more than $22,000 from individual donors and local businesses, including Carmichael Lynch, ECMC Group, Fathom Advisors, and Strothers Communications Group.

Because Benjamin E. Mays was able to raise a majority of the funds they needed to implement the final phase of the program through our school fundraising platform, the district contributed the remainder, leaving SPPS with more funds available than they anticipated to put toward Innocent Classroom training at other schools in the district. AdoptAClassroom.org will continue to work with SPPS to help raise funds for important school-wide initiatives like this one, that advance equity in education throughout the district. 

AdoptAClassroom.org makes supporting schools easy. If you would like to learn more about how you can support schools with us, contact [email protected]. You can see the schools currently fundraising on AdoptAClassroom.org here

May, 2019 fundraising event at the Minneapolis Club for Benjamin E. Mays School. (From left: Jay Kim, Rahoul Ghose, Patrick Strother (AAC Board), Patricia Strother, Ryan Vernosh (AAC Board), Alexs Pate (Innocent Classroom), Ann Pifer (Executive Director, AAC), Cornell Moore.

May, 2019 fundraising event at the Minneapolis Club for Benjamin E. Mays School. (From left: Jay Kim, Rahoul Ghose, Patrick Strother (AAC Board), Patricia Strother, Ryan Vernosh (AAC Board), Alexs Pate (Innocent Classroom), Ann Pifer (Executive Director, AAC), Cornell Moore.