What’s the difference between the Foundation and a PTA? Does SBEF divert funds from a PTA?

We work closely with the district’s PTAs and do not divert money from them. Rather, we strengthen schools by providing an avenue to fund programs that are not included in a PTA’s budget. Your donations, through SBEF, can be designated for a specific program on any campus. Gifts are tax-deductible, and donors receive district-wide recognition.

If I want to support a program at my child’s school, why shouldn’t I write a check to the school?

When a donation is made, other than for a campus fund-raising project, payment should be made to Spring Branch Education Foundation, the charitable organization through which donations to the district are channeled. SBEF has routine procedures in place to recognize and provide correct documentation to support tax-deductible donations. At your direction, a donation will be 100 percent used to support a specific campus activity

What’s the difference between donor-designated grants and any other grant?

Donor-designated grant money is used only for the donor’s specific wishes. It might be an organic garden or classroom computers – that’s up to the donor. The money “passes through” SBEF to fund the specified project. Other grants are funded by money raised at our events or unrestricted donations. Each year, we accept grant applications submitted by district and school staff or volunteers. A Board committee looks carefully at all applications.

How do you determine where SBEF’s grant money goes?

A Foundation Board committee reviews the applications to determine how the money can best be used – the most bang for the buck, so to speak. Donations fund innovative programs in three different ways.

In some instances, SBEF has provided start-up money for important districtwide initiatives. Examples: SpringBoard Mentoring Program, Good Neighbor Program, Altharetta Yeargin Art Museum

District departments ask the Foundation to help support specific and far-reaching programs. Examples: ArtsPartner field trips for grades 1-8, transportation to summer STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) camps.

These grants fund diverse education-enhancing programs. Examples: cross-age tutoring, summer library hours for the community, sensory-based motor labs.

SBEF has been called the research and development arm of the district because our grants fund classroom or grade-level programs that are often expanded across the district.

How do you select scholarship recipients?

We look at each student’s holistic achievement: personal qualities, school and community involvement, family life and academics, for instance. Most scholarships are merit-based or need-based. We look at the whole child. Recipients are honored at our Bright Stars of Spring Branch event in May. As each scholarship is awarded, we hear a brief story about the graduate. These stories are confirmation that our approach works.

How do you use your endowment money?

While the principal of the Fund for the Future endowment is invested, earned interest is already augmenting grants and scholarships. The money will support programs for generations to come.

Why should I support SBEF?

Many of the district’s stakeholders choose to make donations through SBEF to finance beneficial education expenditures for which other funding is not available. Private funding, through the Foundation, remains in the district and helps enhance quality of education. SBEF raises funds only for SBISD. The state’s school finance model has dramatically impacted SBISD as a “property wealthy” district subject to recapture. In fact, the district sends away more of our locally-generated tax dollars to the state than it receives in state aid.

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What are the district’s demographics?

The perception is that our district is a wealthy one, but our student demographics may surprise you: 56% are economically disadvantaged; 55% are academically at risk; 33% have limited English. SBISD covers 44 square miles. It’s a very diverse area. We depend on thousands of donors and hundreds of volunteers from the community. Among the volunteers, some have children in school and others have children who have graduated. We volunteer because we want to help children across the district and make our schools better. Some of our schools don’t have strong PTAs or a lot of parental involvement; that’s one area where SBEF plays a vital role.