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What a time to be in education or a school volunteer. With significantly higher than expected opening expenses, surprise budget cuts, and virtual learning, schools have greater financial needs than ever.

If your school needs to fundraise, but doesn’t know where to start, we’ve polled 800 schools across the country about what they are currently raising funds for—here are the top 5.

1. Technology to Facilitate Remote Learning and Teaching

Many schools started the school year with some or all students learning virtually. After a sudden and difficult virtual learning experience this past Spring, schools are intentionally investing in the virtually learning technology and training for both for students AND teachers.

Many schools have initiatives to provide every student with their own Chromebook to use at home and on the weekends (called 1:1 Chromebooks). This ensures that families have equal access to technology and can learn freely without interruption.

To make teaching virtually better for teachers, schools are purchasing better cameras that allow remote students to see instruction better.

In short, schools are doing their best to simulate an in-person experience by allowing students access to a “classroom” and in front of a teacher they can see and hear well.

2. Healthy and Safety Supplies To Open Their School

It’s estimated that the average district will incur $1.7 Million in additional costs to safely open its schools. From hand sanitizer in every classroom, no-touch thermometers, sanitizing wipes, electrostatic sprayers, deep cleaning, additional custodial staff, and PPE for teachers and staff, the numbers add up quickly.

These operational costs hit each school, and drain resources they were planning on using for other educational opportunities and resources.

3. Outdoor Learning Environments and Equipment

As much as COVID has pushed us all in-doors, it’s safer to be in groups outside. For schools that have started back face-to-face, or schools who anticipating returning face-to-face soon, are looking for ways to safely gather, play, and yes, LEARN OUTSIDE.

Many schools are creating outdoor classrooms, complete with awnings, shade structures, and seating. They are also purchasing more playground equipment to spread students out more during playtime.

4. Teacher and student learning resources

This is a broad fundraising item, but it touches all unexpected teaching and learning resources for students and teachers. If purchasing more learning technology is proactive, this budget item is reactive. Schools want to set aside significant funds to help support teachers and students as they navigate the new normal or remote learning, A/B schedules, and limiting groups. Expenses come up (both for teachers and families), and schools want to be ready to empower their teachers to purchase items quickly so learning doesn’t screech to a hault.

With student-learning significantly impaired this past Spring, plus the Summer slump, educators don’t want to waste anytime getting students back on track this school year.

5. Tuition Assistance and Family Funds

When you combine the major financial impact on some families plus many districts starting the school year remotely, both public and private schools experienced student population gains and loses.

For families at private schools, the additional tuition cost was too much to bear under financial insecurity and job los. So, to help these families, private schools are raising funds to for tuition assistance to bridge hurting families' financial gap.

And because so often the local school is the heart of the community, parent groups and educators are building family funds to help their families who are in need. This includes food, internet access, bills, and other expenses that maybe difficult to pay for if a family suddenly experiences job loss.

These five budget items show one major thing about schools and their leaders—they will do whatever it takes to safely educate their students and support their families, even in the most trying of times.

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