GENERAL OVERVIEW

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 by helping to address the gap between what Larkspur-Corte Madera families wanted for their children and what state and local funding provided. SPARK raises over $1.5M per year for our three schools: Neil Cummins, Hall and The Cove through Annual Giving, business partnerships and fundraising 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 Board is what makes SPARK fundraising activities and community-building events possible. SPARK funding makes the difference between merely a solid education and an excellent one.

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

A: When Proposition 13 slashed education funding in California in 1978, these programs fell out of the funding equation. This is the case for LCMSD and for many districts throughout in California. Hundreds of school districts throughout the State have education foundations, like SPARK, to supplement the education we want for our students. Because Prop 13 limited property tax rates and increases and set assessed values at 1976 levels –  effectively cut funding for public schools in California in half –  California is ranked in the bottom half of the country for per-student funding. Today’s reality is that property taxes and other local and state revenues alone do not cover the cost of a quality education for our children.

Q: What programs does SPARK support?

A: SPARK supports teacher salaries and materials for music, art, science integration, robotics, engineering, technology and wellness programs at all three schools. 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
  • Mindfulness/social-emotional learning
  • Wellness and counseling

Q: If I’m dissatisfied with my individual teacher, principal, or district staff, why should I give to SPARK?

If people choose not to give to SPARK, we will have less money to give to the District for each student which will result in making hard choices on what to cut or reduce. Withholding donations to SPARK affects each school site’s budgets directly and the impact of reduced SPARK funding will be felt by every student.

If you are upset with an aspect of your child’s education, please communicate your concerns to your teacher, principal, superintendent and/or school board. They all want to ensure your child has access to the best education possible and is enjoying their school experience.

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: 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 $1.4M.  SPARK’s largest source of revenue is generated from the Annual Giving Campaign, which makes up more than 75%.  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  —raised around 22% of gross revenue combined with SchoolsRule contributing 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:  We encourage people to give an amount that is meaningful to you and your family. The current gap that exists is more than $1 million, or approximately $965 per child in the District. This is what it costs to educate each student in our District. If that doesn’t feel like the right amount, please consider giving something that is comfortable. Every dollar makes a difference.  We welcome and encourage gifts of any level so that everyone can participate in Annual Giving and have a stake in the education of all of our students. Every single gift makes an impact for the students and it truly is a whole community effort to support our schools through SPARK. Please join us.

Q: How do I make a donation?

You can make a one-time donation online with a credit card or set up automatic monthly installments to spread your payments out over time. Donations can also be made by check, 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 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

Q: How can I help in addition to making a donation?

A: We are always looking for parent volunteers to help with SPARK-related events or campaigns. Learn more here.

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: Why should I give money to both SPARK and my school’s PTA/PTO?

SPARK and the PTA/PTO are both crucial parts of the funding puzzle that our district must assemble every year to keep our schools strong. SPARK is the primary fundraising organization for the District and 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 materials, programs and events at each specific site. They fund such things as classroom supplies, school site improvements, playground equipment, student scholarships for field trips, and site-specific programs such as assemblies and parent-ed. We encourage giving to both SPARK and your PTA or PTO.

SPARK BIZ

  1. Which businesses in our community donate to SPARK?
  2. 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.