Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL

Q: What is SPARK?  

A: SPARK, the Larkspur-Corte Madera Schools Foundation,  is a non-profit 501(c3) organization made up of parents, teachers, businesses, and active members of the community who, since 1980, have raised tens of millions of dollars to supplement our limited school budgets. SPARK commits over $1M — approximately 7% of the overall District’s budget — per year for our schools through parent and business donations, eScrip subscriptions, and special events. Each of these is critical to providing the funding needed to keep vital programs offered through our schools. The dedication and hard work of our SPARK parent volunteers is what makes SPARK fundraising activities and community-building events possible.

Q: What programs does SPARK support?

A: SPARK supports teacher salaries and materials for Music, Art, Science, Technology programs at all three schools, as well as mindfulness. Without SPARK, the simple truth is that these programs would be cut or severely scaled back. These programs help give our children confidence, foster creativity, and provide a breadth of experiences that tap each child’s unique talents while developing the self-expression and self-esteem needed to succeed in today’s world.

Q: How does my child benefit from SPARK funding?

  • Weekly music classes K-5
  • Weekly art classes K-5
  • Music, Art and Tech electives 6-8
  • Science integration instruction and materials K-8
  • Engineering and robotics through
  • Mathematics support through Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) and partnership with UCLA
  • Mindfulness/social-emotional learning

Q: Why do our schools need money? Isn’t public school free?

A: California’s educational funding has been drastically cut, and as a result many of our quality programs that used to be part of the standard public school curriculum are at risk of being discontinued or severely scaled back. Property taxes and parcel taxes alone do not cover the major funding gap that exists between state funds and what is needed for a quality education for our children. In fact, property taxes cover only a small percentage of what is needed.

Q: Who makes up SPARK?

A: Our Board of Directors is comprised of parent volunteers from each of our three schools.  In addition, the SPARK Executive Director, the LCMSD Superintendent and one member of the LCMSD School Board of Trustees attend meetings and advise the SPARK Board. Board meetings are held monthly when school is in session. Our 20 board members work together throughout the school year to ensure the financial health of SPARK and manage our events and campaigns. Our three person part-time staff manages operations, administration, accounts receivable, database and communications keeps everything fluid to ensure SPARK’s success in meeting its goals.

Q: How does SPARK and the PTO/PTAs work together?

A: SPARK funds educational programs that have been cut or are under-funded by the state budget for the entire District. The Neil Cummins PTO, The Cove School PTO, and the Hall PTA support site-specific materials that enhance and enrich the community experience. Visit the District website for more information on the Neil Cummins and The Cove PTOs and Hall PTA. Please support both organizations, as both provide vital programs and services at your school.

Q: What is SPARK Shopping?

A: We have a few shop back programs including Nugget and Amazon Smile that raise money for SPARK For more information, click here.

Q: Does SPARK have a Facebook page?

A: Yes! “Like” us today to get pictures, updates and information on events! Click here to find our page.

FINANCIAL OVERVIEW

Q: Where do the funds raised by SPARK go and how much of the funds raised come from each source?

A: Last year,  the Foundation exceeded its fundraising goal of $1.3M.  SPARK’s largest source of revenue is generated from the Annual Giving Campaign, which makes up around 71%.  Thanks to generous local and family business supporters, SPARK Biz makes up around  5% share. SPARK’s three fundraising events — Fun Run, Online Auction, Spring Spotlight Gala  — combined raise around 22% of gross revenue. Finally, SchoolsRule contributed around 2%.

Q How are SPARK Funds allocated each year?

A: The Larkspur-Corte Madera School Trustees and District administration determine the curriculum for the District, establish priorities for program development, and identify crucial District needs. SPARK then collaborates with the District to provide funding where needed to execute the Board-approved plan. All programs and services funded by SPARK are developed and managed by the District.

ANNUAL GIVING

Q: How much should I donate to the Annual Giving Campaign?

A: The current gap that exists is more than $1 million, or approximately $935 per child in the District. This is what it costs to educate each student in our District. However, more than the specific dollar amount is our emphasis on participation. We need every family to consider supporting Annual Giving every year with a  a donation of any amount. You can also set up monthly installments to spread your payments out over time. Donations can be made by check, credit card, with stock, and/or through corporate matching. You can also pledge now and pay later. Click here to make an online donation today.

Q: How can I help if I can’t give a big amount?

A: There are many ways you can help support our schools! First, any and every donation makes a difference, no matter the amount. In addition, you can donate your time to any of the SPARK-related events or campaigns.

Q: How does SPARK acknowledge donors?

A: The full list of donors and businesses who have generously supported SPARK is included in the Fall Annual Giving brochure and website. The list on the website is updated on a regular basis. Click here to view the most current list. We make every effort to list names correctly. Please email us with any corrections.

Q: Why do I keep getting emails and request for me to donate when we’ve already given ?

A: With more than 1,000 busy families in the Larkspur-Corte Madera School District, we need to reach out several times throughout the year, and this means we are often communicating to families who have already donated. We realize this may sometimes be frustrating, but please know that our goal is simply to ensure that we get enough family involvement and support to fund the programs that are so valuable to your children’s education.

Q: How can I do a Corporate Match? How do I know if my employer has one?

A: Taking advantage of your employer’s corporate match is a great way to increase – and in some cases double – your donation. Check out our Corporate Match page here which has a handy match tool so you can find out if your company participates. SPARK is listed under our DBA: Corte Madera Larkspur Foundation and EIN Number : 942934350

SPARK BIZ

Q. Which businesses in our community donate to SPARK?

A. Following is a list of organizations that donate to SPARK. For a full list please click here.

Q: I am a local business owner, how can I get involved in the SPARK Business Program?

A: Participating businesses can receive numerous benefits depending on their level of commitment. Please click here for more information.