Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools Launches New Fund to Benefit Public Schools
County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Amie Carter and the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) are launching a new fundraising initiative in support of all the region’s public school students.
SchoolsRule Sonoma County will work in partnership with many of Sonoma County’s existing educational foundations to raise and distribute money that will benefit students throughout the region.
“Sonoma County has some wonderful education foundations that work tirelessly to support our students,” Dr. Carter said. “But these foundations vary in what they are able to do. Some schools are served by robust foundations with many volunteers and donors, while others might struggle to raise funds with one or two volunteers. Some of our rural schools have no foundation at all.”
Following a Thursday, Nov. 9, launch event hosted by Redwood Credit Union, state Senate Majority Leader Mike McGuire said the new effort would fill a need among those who want to give on a broader, region-wide level.
“Sonoma County is one of the most generous places on Earth, and last week certainly didn’t disappoint. Folks were so incredibly generous supporting Sonoma County students,” McGuire said. “SchoolsRule is a one-stop shop that will uplift the lives of every public school student, in every school district, on every campus, in every corner of this great county for generations to come.”
SchoolsRule Sonoma County is based on a model pioneered by SchoolsRule-Marin, which has been raising funds on behalf of that county’s students for the past 12 years. It will serve as a single conduit for donations from people who want to impact the lives of students countywide.
At the launch event, Redwood Credit Union made a three-year commitment of $50,000 annually to start SchoolsRule Sonoma County on strong financial footing. Its hope is that others will follow this lead and likewise step up. RCU President and CEO Brett Martinez spoke of the credit union’s long-standing support of SchoolsRule-Marin, which to date has raised more than $6 million for programs that benefit Marin County students.
Martinez said he’s been a fan of a countywide fundraising approach since longtime Marin County Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke pitched him on the idea more than a decade ago.
“Providing well-rounded educational opportunities for all students is vital to the future of our communities,” said Martinez. “When I learned what SchoolsRule-Marin was doing, I saw it for the amazing idea that it was, and so we made the commitment right then. It’s a gift for us to be able to replicate Marin’s success in Sonoma County.” Martinez estimated that RCU has given nearly a half-million dollars over the years to support SchoolsRule-Marin.
Martinez said RCU plans to replicate its Marin County program by making a donation to SchoolsRule Sonoma County every time a Sonoma County resident makes a purchase using their RCU credit or debit card, beginning in January.
In addition to Redwood Credit Union, The Press Democrat and parent company Sonoma Media Investments have agreed to support SchoolsRule Sonoma County with a three-year commitment of $25,000 in advertising and marketing as an in-kind donation.
SchoolsRule Sonoma County will work with existing education foundations and school districts to distribute funding in alignment with several priority spending areas. The program is being housed within SCOE to reduce overhead expenses and ensure that donations go directly to benefit students.
“We are excited to partner with our education foundation partners on distribution,” Carter said. “These foundations know their school communities best, and they know best how to spend these dollars. They will help ensure donations help fund high-impact programs in our targeted areas of focus.”
Thursday’s event was meant to introduce SchoolsRule to a handful of key potential partners in establishing this new fundraising effort and was the first phase of public outreach around the campaign. Businesses and individuals willing to commit to fund the effort for three years beginning at $500 annually will be recognized as members of the initiative’s founders circle.
Several businesses and individuals at Thursday’s event committed amounts ranging from $500 to $5,000 over the next three years to support SchoolsRule Sonoma County.
“We’re grateful to report that more than $80,000 in cash contributions have been raised since Thursday, and we look forward to adding more partners. This is only the beginning,” Dr. Carter said.
For more information, visit schoolsrulesonomacounty.org.