School Finance 613: How Students Benefit from Philanthropy and Fundraising

We are sometimes asked what happens to the money raised by our support organizations. This week we take the opportunity to explain how funds raised by the SAS Foundations, the PTA, and the Boosters have positively impacted our students this year. We are deeply grateful to all who support the school through donations of money, time, expertise, and enthusiasm. Without this support, many of the special opportunities our students enjoy would not be possible.

The school's oldest support organization, the PTA seeks to "enhance and enrich the SAS experience for students and their families." Besides organizing community and classroom events, the PTA raises funds through uniform sales and the International Fair. The Booster Club fosters school spirit, teamwork, and sportsmanship in the high school. Proceeds from the Booster Booth support students' academic, athletic, cultural, and community service activities. For more on the outstanding work of all our parent volunteers, who contribute to student experiences in myriad ways, please read School Finance 513: Parent Volunteers, Making the Difference.

While tuition and fees make up over ninety percent of our total revenues, philanthropic donations to the SAS Foundations are increasingly significant in resourcing the experiences that set an SAS education apart. The two SAS Foundations—one in the United States and one in Singapore—are both non-profit, independent charities whose mission is to provide funding for the educational programs, operations, and capital initiatives of SAS. Foundations funds benefiting students this year were raised in 2015-16, a record year for our advancement office, which received nearly S$4 million in donations, including a significant S$200,000 gift from the SAS PTA.

Below we list some of the ways this non-tuition funding has provided "experiences that make the difference" in 2016-17. We hope you enjoy reading about the many ways our support organizations impact SAS students. We welcome comments, questions, and suggestions for future articles at wscarborough@sas.edu.sg, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Student-directed projects

As SAS embraces more individualized, project-based work at all levels, funds from our support organizations help cover the associated costs, such as:

  • High school (HS) Catalyst stipends for projects incurring unusual expenses
  • An entrepreneur-in-residence, who helped Catalyst students develop projects and connect with mentors
  • Funding for elementary teachers to develop inquiry-based units for their classes

Academic innovation and excellence

SAS offers a range of innovative and challenging academic opportunities, many of which are supported by our support organizations, including:

  • Funding for the new advanced topic (AT) courses and Quest program in the high school
  • Upgrades to our makerspaces, where students experiment, create, and invent
  • Booster recognition events to encourage academic excellence

Service learning

Through community service, students learn about the wider world by helping others. Support organizations' funding allowed:

  • Elementary school service trips to Adventist Rehabilitation Centre, Fuchun Primary School, Christalite Methodist Home, and grocery shopping for low-income families
  • Grants to high school service clubs requesting assistance through the Executive Service Council
  • Matching funds to support student fundraising efforts

Scholarships

Our support organizations provided both need-based and merit-based scholarships such as:

  • Interim scholarships
  • Sports and service club trip scholarships
  • Senior scholarships

Student welfare programs

Our support organizations helped us enhance our student welfare programs in accordance with our R&D recommendations, including support for:

  • The elementary Lunch Bunch room, where students connect through creativity and play
  • The middle school homebase program
  • The new high school advisory program
  • A wireless sound system for the APEx fitness and wellness center

Sports, clubs, and activities

Students of all ages and interests benefited from donor and volunteer generosity, which provided funding for:

  • Uniforms and equipment for athletic activities
  • ACSIS dues so our teams could compete against other international schools
  • Model United Nations, Robotics, and the TEDxYouth event (high school)
  • National History Day, Quiz Club, Lego Robotics, and the Backyard Games activity (middle school)
  • Asia Fest, Marathon Club, and Chinese New Year celebrations (elementary school)

Professional development

Students benefit through professional development opportunities for teachers and staff; this year, our support organizations made possible:

  • Training in inquiry-based learning for over 100 elementary instructional assistants (IAs); a special gift from a donor will allow ongoing IA professional development in coming years
  • Training for our elementary Chinese language teachers in preparation for the launch of our Chinese immersion classes
  • Middle school teacher training in the Response To Intervention model, which helps identify and address students' individualized needs

Visiting authors, artists, and speakers

The PTA's generous gift to the SAS Foundation makes possible our popular academic visitors-in-residence program, and the Foundations also fund our SpeakerSeries@SAS. This year, visitors included:

  • Authors Todd Parr, Steve Jenkins, and Robin Page, who worked with students in preschool through grade five
  • Professional writers, dancers, actors, and visual artists who worked with middle school and high school students
  • Developmental and behavioral pediatrician Dr. Roby Marcou
  • Community healthcare provider Dr. Tan Lai Yong
  • Award-winning Singapore author Sonny Liew
  • Child psychologist Dr. Maureen Neihart, speaking next Tuesday