On March 2, the Ann Arbor PTO Council
(PTOC) launched a fundraiser in support of Title I elementary schools, aiming to combat inequity and wealth disparity across Ann Arbor PTOs.
Title I schools are designated by the federal government as having a low-income student population. Jordan Else, PTOC co-chair, says PTOC research shows that at some Ann Arbor schools, as many as 60% of students come from economically disadvantaged families. At other schools, that figure was as low as 10%.
Schools with more economically disadvantaged students tend to have PTOs with lower funding. While some Ann Arbor PTOs have raised as much as $238 per student per year, others have been able to raise only $40 per student per year.
"We are very much committed to figuring out a more sustainable [solution] that can work to close up these gaps," Else says.
But in the meantime, she says the fundraiser is a way of "starting to make a dent in the opportunity gap."
The fundraiser, which is available on GoFundMe
, aims to raise at least $30,000. Else says that amount would allow the PTOC to donate $10 per student to each of the affected schools, including Dicken, Allen, Mitchell, and Haisley elementary schools, among others.
Last week, the nonprofit Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop announced that it would match donations to the PTOC fundraiser up to $30,000 to celebrate the shop's 30th anniversary.
If that goal is met, the PTOC will be able to donate about $20 per student at each school.
Else says the funds will be donated with "no strings attached," so that PTOs at each school can decide for themselves how the money should be spent.
"We go into this knowing that each one of our schools is its own community and each one is a loving, generous population that is doing everything that [it] can," Else says.
For more information or to donate, click here
Natalia Holtzman is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. Her work has appeared in publications such as the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Literary Hub, The Millions, and others.