Frequently Asked Questions
What is MSF?
The Mamaroneck Schools Foundation (MSF) was founded by parents and community members in 1996 and encourages excellence in our public schools by funding innovative programs that fall beyond the scope of the regular school budget. It offers a way for individuals, foundations and corporations to donate money to the public schools, and for teachers and administrators to obtain funding for new programs and equipment that would not be covered in the district’s operating budget. MSF is a non-profit organization run by volunteers. It is independent of the school board and administration, though it operates with their cooperation and support.
How is MSF different from the PTA?
MSF works across all schools with the support and involvement of the district superintendent and school board. MSF generally funds larger initiatives, often specifically related to curriculum, and provides seed money to pioneer new programs, technology or approaches to teaching, rather than funding ongoing expenses. The Foundation considers requests with a view to the needs of the school district as a whole, and particularly welcomes multi-school grants. MSF often funds grants in areas that are beyond the scope or purview of the PTAs. MSF does not compete with the PTAs, but rather complements the work they are doing within each school. MSF is also a separate entity from the Student Aid Fund, which solicits funds for college scholarships for high school seniors who demonstrate financial need.
We pay high taxes to fund a large school budget. Why is there a need for MSF to ask for donations as well?
MSF was founded to encourage and reward innovation in teaching. By encouraging teachers and administrators to develop new programs and creative approaches to teaching and learning, and to incorporate new equipment and materials in classrooms, we provide incentives for teachers to stay on the cutting edge of their field, and to stay motivated and excited about teaching. We reward their efforts by funding “wish list” projects for their classrooms that might otherwise never come to fruition, and we allow teachers the opportunity to dream bigger and to try out new ideas as pilot programs. By accepting donations, MSF provides a way for parents and community members who want to make our schools the best they possibly can be to give teachers and students the “extras” that create a truly outstanding school system. The vast majority of the school taxes and budget go toward fixed expenses such as salaries, building costs, pensions and insurance. Only about 1% of our district’s budget represents discretionary costs. Within that context, the Foundation’s annual budget of approximately $200,000 can have a huge impact, and in the face of rising costs and decreasing state and federal aid, helps ensure that our schools continue to excel.
How does the Foundation raise its money?
The Foundation raises almost all its funds from two primary sources: A fall fund-raising mailer, sent out to all district families in early November and through a Spring Benefit Event. We also raise funds through the Fall Junior Triathlon and a casual Fall event.
How much money does the Foundation grant?
Grants typically range from $1,500 to as much as $50,000. Overall, we have contributed more than $5,000,000 for over 500 grants to our schools since our inception.
How are grants chosen and awarded?
Click here to view the MSF Teacher Grant Guidelines. Teachers, administrators, and community members are all encouraged to apply for grants; however, all grant applications must have a district contact as the lead applicant who will spearhead and implement the grant if awarded. Additionally, we request that the relevant school’s principal or program administrator be made aware of the grant proposal. A committee of MSF Board members carefully reviews and evaluates all grant requests, questions grant applicants thoroughly, and then, depending on funds available, votes to award grants to as many worthy programs as possible. The superintendent of schools also reviews all grants, and then the school board accepts the funds.
Can I apply for a grant?
To apply for a grant obtain a copy of the Grant Guidelines and Grant Application available on our website. Talk with teachers or administrators who would be involved in implementing the program to gauge their interest. It is important that any program have the support of a faculty member to implement it. Parents and community members can play an important role in suggesting new programs, and in providing assistance in the grant-writing process but ultimately, grants must be implemented by a district employee. Grants can also be awared to education-related programs for community organizations such as the Community Counseling Center, the Mamaroneck Library, the Hispanic Resource Center, and the Sheldrake Nature Center if they will have a positive impact on the children in our schools.
How are Board members for MSF chosen and who are they?
All Board members are volunteers who express interest and enthusiasm for joining in the work of the Foundation and who commit to being involved with the organization in some capacity. Most Board members begin on our Advisory Board. Interested faculty members may also be members of our Board. The Board generally meets once a month at the High School. We always welcome new members. Contact us here.
Do most public school districts in Westchester have schools foundations?
Many do. Districts ranging from Bronxville, which has one of the oldest and most successful foundations, to Eastchester, which has more recently formed a foundation, are finding it a worthwhile way to raise funds and enhance education in their communities. And across the country, there is greater emphasis on private and corporate giving for public schools. Mamaroneck has one of the most successful foundations in the area in terms of both money raised and grants awarded. A strong schools foundation is considered an important sign of a community’s commitment to education, and is often noted by realtors and others in descriptions of our community.