FAQ

What is The Bronxville School Foundation?

Who founded The Bronxville School Foundation?

Does the BSF have a stated mission?

The PTA also raises money to support our school. What is the difference between the two organizations?

It seems I get a letter every day from some group wanting support. Doesn’t my donation to these other funds help our school?

Would it really make such a difference if the Foundation didn’t exist? Are those things that you fund that important to our school?

How many grants have been given to the school through the Foundation?

Who submits grant requests to the BSF?

What kinds of things have been funded over the years?

Do most school families give a donation?

How much money do you raise?

What amount do most people give?

I’m not sure how much to give. Is there a minimum?

I really don’t remember anyone asking me for a donation. Was there a letter?

Are alumni involved in the Foundation?

Who decides how the money is spent?

What expenses does the BSF have each year?

How independent is your grant process from the goals of the administration if you have the Superintendent and a School Board member on your board?

How can I justify giving the school any more after years of tax increases?

Why can’t I just give a contribution directly to the school instead of giving through the Foundation? Couldn’t I just buy a computer or give money?

How can I get involved in helping the Foundation, other than a donation?

Could we do even more for our school?

The Foundation is a 25 year old, non-profit organization located in Bronxville, that is independent from our school but with the sole purpose of supporting our school and educational excellence in our village. We raise money each year through donations from community members, alumni, corporations and others. These contributions are then used annually to fund grants exclusively for the Bronxville School that provide new equipment, programs, curriculum innovations, teacher training and tools that make our school an even stronger academic institution.

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Back in 1991, after considering the long-term direction and needs of our school, and the predicted political and economic situation for New York State public educational institutions in the future, the Board of Education and concerned citizens determined that the creation of an independent foundation would be extremely beneficial for the Bronxville School. A foundation could ensure that incremental funding would be available in the future to continue to support our school as a Blue Ribbon School, and provide one of the best public school experiences anywhere in the state. After significant effort was made by many individuals to set up an effective and highly professional organization, the Bronxville School Foundation was incorporated in the spring of 1991.

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Yes we do, and we turn to this statement during all of our grant reviews and board activities to make sure we are consistently faithful to this mission. At the same time, we review our mission each year to make sure that it provides the flexibility required to support the changing needs of the school.

Our mission is to enhance the quality of public education in our community by engaging the support and energies of educators, citizens, parents, students and alumni. The Foundation awards grants for projects that do the following:

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The Foundation and the PTA are both organizations that exist to provide strong support that is critical to our school’s success. They are, however, different in structure and focus. The Foundation is an organization that was established solely to raise money and make grants to our school. It was created with the requirement that it be a long-term entity and there is an endowment of over $1.9 million. Our donors can make gifts to the endowment or to the general fund. The endowment is invested; our finance committee oversees the investment of all of our funds.

The PTA is a national organization that supports parent/teacher relationships in the school and whose mission is to promote children's educational success, health, and well-being through strong parent, family and community involvement. The PTA funds the four School Councils (Elementary, Middle, High School and Athletic Councils) and their activities through membership dues, ongoing fundraising events and the PTA sponsored Memorial Day weekend. Individually, the Councils sponsor the Bronxville After School Clubs (BASC/A9), Health and Wellness Speakers (BWell), baccalaureate and graduation events, teacher appreciation events and Homecoming, to name just a few. Funds raised through years of successful fundraising have been used in conjunction with The Foundation and public funds towards the Auditorium renovation. The April 2015 PTA benefit proceeds will go towards a future Library renovation. For more information, please visit The Bronxville PTA.

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There are indeed many important non-profit organizations in our village that need support from community members. These groups, such as The Community Fund, Bereavement Center, and FCS do an outstanding job raising money and providing grants and programs to support various services for the broader Eastchester community, of which Bronxville is a part. Many of our school families benefit from these critical services. However, these organizations do not provide support for academic programs in the Bronxville School. The Foundation raises money solely to enhance the school environment.

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This is an excellent question and perhaps the most important one of all. Most individuals in our community would be surprised to learn about how much curriculum support and resources in every classroom have come from Foundation grants. We have a very strong school, but remember, we are a public school, and our budget is only so big and state aid to our district tends to be fairly small. The administrators, teachers and board do a great job each year, getting the very best for our school, given our budget. But there are often things that our budget can’t cover that are integral to creating a stimulating and challenging learning environment.

As a community, we expect our school to be way above average. We are dedicated to educational excellence in all aspects within our school and have very high standards. In order to deliver against these standards, it is necessary to be able to support our students with quality techniques, tools and curriculum. Our teachers and administrators have innovative and exciting ideas to improve the educational experience of our students and they need a place to go for financial support. This is where the Foundation plays an important role. BSF provides money for “extras” needed to ensure that critical teaching resources are in our classrooms. Our presence and support also motivates and improves performance from teachers, administrators and, most importantly, our students.

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Over the past 25 years, we have awarded 643 grants totaling $8.3 million across all three schools. In 2012 we awarded an $850,000 grant to the school for the Auditorium project, this was the largest single grant to date that the BSF has made and also served as a catalyst for the fundraising for the auditorium project. For the 2016 school year we made over $775,000 in awards.

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While the majority of requests do come from our teachers and administrators, we also get requests from students, parents and others. Any community member can submit a request, providing the request is focused on resources for the Bronxville School. or example, we have had parents request a costume room upgrade, Edinburgh Fringe Festival support and a landscape feasibility study, among others. Students have made requests for support for student government, academic clubs, visiting speakers, the renovation of the rotunda and more.

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Grants have been awarded in every area of the school, from art to athletics and for every academic subject. In addition, the elementary, middle and high schools have all been given strong support over the years. If you toured the school and saw everything provided through Foundation grants, you would see how critical this support is to the educational experience of our students. We’ve provided countless resources including cutting-edge computers, SMART Boards, new gym and fitness center equipment, and other resources across all three schools. We also provide funds for curriculum innovations, professional development, and specialized programs. In 2014 a large grant for a new pilot program for technology was funded for Chromebooks and related teacher training in Google Apps for Education and in 2015 Foundation resources transformed two High School classrooms and the Middle School Computer Lab into innovative learning spaces.

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Many school families do contribute and have been faithful supporters of the Foundation. We are grateful for each and every gift. Our teachers and students are most fortunate to have this kind of support from the community. This past year, close to half our school families gave a donation. There may be many reasons why a school family would choose not to make a donation to the Foundation. One reason may be that people really don’t know what the Foundation does and how donations are used to give all of our children such important incremental resources. Every student in our school benefits from Foundation grants, whether their families are donors or not.

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For 2016 we had total contributions of $732,339 from 628 donors attributable to the Community Drive. Our donors are school families, alumni, community members, faculty and many others who support our mission.

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We have individual donations of $50 and some over $10,000. The range is very large. Our average donation is around $600 but that is obviously skewed by our very large donors. Again, a donation in any amount is appreciated and makes a difference!

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There is no minimum amount for a gift – it is a personal decision. While we do publish a list of the names of all of our donors in our annual report each year, we do not ever report donors by the amount they have given. Every gift is meaningful to the BSF regardless of size. It is the participation in building something great together that is so appreciated.

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Yes, we do almost all of our fundraising through a letter of appeal to the community that is mailed in early November. The letter reaches all the Bronxville community, all school families and some additional friends of our school who live outside the 10708 area. We send a second reminder appeal letter in early spring.

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We have a separate mailing to our alumni in the spring including an alumni newsletter. The alumni group is very important to the BSF and, in fact, we are the only alumni “office” in our school. We help with tours, alumni reunions, directories and general inquiries. Last year we had donations to the BSF from alumni from 25 different states.

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We have a 30 member board which is comprised of 26 volunteer community members, the V.P. of the PTA, one school board representative, the superintendent and the BSF Executive Director. The community members represent a broad cross section of our overall community– school families, empty nesters, alumni, etc. As representatives for all our donors, our board takes their responsibility in considering all grants very seriously. We are focused on ensuring that the grants awarded are beneficial for a large number of students, are consistent with the goals of the school, and our BSF mission. In March, all of the grant requests are submitted to the BSF and given to the board to review. We have a rigorous procedure for evaluating grants which are submitted early in the calendar year and requests are voted on by the entire BSF board after a thorough review. We are sometimes unable to fund every grant request because they may not meet our criteria or we may have requests for more money than we have to give! This is where our donor base, again, plays such a critical role.

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The BSF has 26 volunteer board members, who are responsible for a large part of the work that is done. We do also have a paid, part time Executive Director and a part time administrative assistant, who provide very necessary support to the BSF. We are extremely conservative about all expenses. Our Executive Director receives a stipend while our administrative assistant is paid on an hourly basis. In addition, we have some costs related to our mailings and general office supplies. While we are a separate institution from the school, we have extensive day-to-day activities with the school staff and the administration has been very generous in providing the BSF with office space in the school.

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An important reason the BSF has been successful over the years is because we actively engage our administration and school board. By doing this, we have ensured consistency in prioritizing needs and working toward the common good of the school. This does not mean that the administration or school board dictates what we choose to fund. Instead, they provide meaningful input into our direction and level of support for the school as does each member of our board.

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Taxes are a concern for everyone in our community and they have gone up over time. A large part of our taxes go to the school and help to achieve the community’s goal of excellence for our students. However, there are costs that are outside of our district’s control such as pension requirements, state-mandated programs and certiorari awards that have increased dramatically over the years. Even so, our tax increases have been consistent with those in similar communities and school districts. While our taxes may be considered high – our property values remain strong and the quality of our school has a direct impact on the strength of housing values.

There are important factors that accentuate the need for even greater Foundation support for our school in the future. The number of children in our school has increased by almost 50% over the past few years. That has meant more teachers and an expanded building, with related costs. It also places more demands for the type of programs that the Foundation makes possible, which tend to be directly used by students (like computers). In this rapidly changing, competitive, and technology driven world, it is critical that we have the necessary resources available in our school, and to maintain the excellent caliber and reputation of our school. The Foundation is there to provide that extraordinarily important support. Our taxes turn on the lights of the school. Foundation grants turn on the enthusiasm and achievement of our kids. We need both.

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Yes, since we started the BSF, other public schools have realized the benefits of an independent foundation. Our executive director attends a roundtable event each year where directors of other Westchester school foundations discuss strategic issues. BSF is a leader among this group and we are frequently modeled because of our success. There are currently foundations in Bedford, Chappaqua, Harrison, Irvington, Katonah and Pelham, among other school systems in Westchester.

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As a community, we have very high standards for our school. However, we cannot achieve these standards through public school funding alone. Our teachers and administrators have innovative and exciting ideas to improve the educational experience of our students and they need a place to go for financial support. The Foundation fills this very important role.

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You could give a gift directly to our school but it would be less effective than collectively supporting programs and initiatives that are consistent with the school’s stated goals. The Foundation has a sophisticated structure for fundraising and awarding grants and has an ongoing dialogue with administrators to ensure that gifts impact the greatest number of students in a meaningful way.

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In the spring, we nominate new members to the BSF board. Anyone who has an interest in serving can send a letter to our V.P. of the Nominating Committee to express that interest in being considered for our board in the future. We also have been extremely fortunate to have some community members with expertise in particular areas such as photography, desktop publishing, marketing and graphic design, volunteer their services to help us with specific short-term projects. If you have a special talent or interest such as these, there are many ways you may be able to contribute to Foundation activities. You can contact our Executive Director, Peggy Williams at 914-395-0515.

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The opportunities are very exciting… there are only two constraints (1) having exciting ideas surfaced to the Foundation through grant requests or special project and then, of course, (2) raising enough funds from our community to make big things happen. If we could even just get every family with a child in our school to give a contribution, we would already be on the way to being able to do even more.

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Created and Donated by Hugh Sullivan