Ravenswood Education Foundation: Addressing Educational Inequity in the time of COVID
“The inequity in this district as compared to the other districts surrounding us has always been so tangible and clear,” explains Jenna Wachtel Pronovost, Executive Director of the Ravenswood Education Foundation. “Then COVID happened and the schools closed. The inequities have intensified in this environment, and we knew we would have to act quickly to support our students and the greater community.”
The five elementary schools and one middle school in East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park that comprise the Ravenswood City School District face underfunding, low teacher salaries and retention, and overwhelming socioeconomic challenges. The result of these issues: lagging school performance as compared to neighboring school districts, an uneven playing field at the start of high school, and ultimately, a community that under-leverages some of its best talent. The Ravenswood Education Foundation was started to combat these issues by ensuring that Ravenswood students have access to equitable and high quality educational opportunities. The foundation’s approach is to partner with the Ravenswood school district and engage stakeholders from the broader community.
“The foundation is able to say to the district, “don’t let finances be an obstacle”. We work with the district to identify initiatives to improve the educational opportunities for our students, and we communicate with local stakeholders to raise the funds to make it happen.”
This was all true before COVID-19, but with schools closed and unemployment rising, these conditions have intensified, and the students and their families face unprecedented challenges. In response to COVID, the foundation has been working to build an emergency response fund to help students in the district address the challenges they are facing during these difficult times. As a part of this effort, UpMetrics has partnered with the foundation to help them analyze the donations behind the fund and communicate updates to donors as they work with the district on a variety of initiatives.
“We knew that the needs of our students were going to be significant. We moved quickly to call on people in our community and the response was overwhelmingly positive.”
In an effort to get the word out, Jenna and the team sent one newsletter per week for the first 10 weeks after schools closed. These newsletters allowed them to highlight the needs of their students and how the community could support.
“This crisis has helped people to realize that we are all one community and our actions impact each other. The needs of these students speak for themselves. These are families who don’t have internet or devices at home, and meanwhile, their families are losing their jobs. We found that by amplifying the needs of our students and their families, our local community wanted to do whatever they could to help.”
The foundation reached all of their initial fundraising goals and saw an increase in new donors. Through the donation analysis provided by UpMetrics, the Foundation uncovered that of all the donations received, 475 came from new donors.
The funds raised have enabled the Foundation to work with the district around a number of important response efforts. “A lot of families in this community were already living pay check to pay check, but now, many have lost all of their income. So we’ve worked with the district to distribute gift cards to these families and we’ve provided contributions to the local food bank. We’ve been able to do a lot of things to support distance learning. As an example, we partnered with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to get hotspots for all of our students. We have also worked with other technology companies in Silicon Valley to distribute devices. We have bought and distributed masks, hand sanitizers, and gloves - really anything that is needed. These are just some of examples of the important work we have been able to support with the money that has been raised.”
The foundation has been leveraging UpMetrics data visualization widgets to share progress towards fundraising goals and to provide ongoing updates around the use of the emergency response funds.
Image taken from the Ravenswood Education Foundation Impact Profile page. Learn more here
“UpMetrics has helped us understand who our donors are. Breaking down this information has been so interesting and important for our internal operations. We have also been able to seamlessly communicate with our donors using the UpMetrics tools. For example, we have embedded the UpMetrics data visualizations into our website, which updates automatically as new data comes in. This feels very current and allows us to be transparent with our donors.”
Looking forward, the team is excited to use UpMetrics to support all of their fundraising efforts, including their upcoming annual campaign.
“It allows us to share the funding that has been received and where it is going. We want to be good stewards of this funding, and UpMetrics makes it even easier for us to do that work.”
UpMetrics is proud to play a small role in the important work that the team at Ravenswood Education Foundation is doing to provide equitable and high quality educational opportunities for students in the district. To learn more about Ravenswood Education Foundation, visit their UpMetrics Impact Profile page, or visit their official website, https://www.ravenswoodef.org/.
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