The Mountain View Educational Foundation is looking to kick school fundraising into high gear this fall. Google announced last week that it would match up to $400,000 in donations made through December 11, offering a big boost in funding to the Mountain View Whisman School District.
The commitment by Google marks the foundation's first major matching grant in at least the last six years, according to Alison Barnsley, the education foundation's executive director. The extra money from Google not only helps fund local schools, but it also challenges residents to contribute more money through December.
"People recognize that they have to take advantage and support the (schools). It is a powerful tool," Barnsley said.
The education foundation, which contributes money to the district's libraries, music programs and field trips, raised $722,000 last year. Barnsley said there's a big disparity between what the foundation raises compared to the foundation supporting the nearby Los Altos School District -- which raised $3.3 million in the same year -- because of Mountain View's relatively high number of struggling middle class and economically disadvantaged families.
In an effort to bolster school funding and overcome that disparity, Barnsley said the Mountain View Education Foundation (MVEF) relies on philanthropic dollars, with Google often stepping up to the plate as a donor.
"Google tries, as a company, to be a good corporate citizen," she said.
Google typically contributes to local schools each year through technology and science-related grants, but took a different approach this year by offering up the extra cash as an incentive for people to contribute to the MVEF. In order to attract new donors, Google will contribute $2 for every $1 donated by new donors who haven't contributed previously.
"For decades, the Mountain View Educational Foundation has been a terrific partner to local schools and students," a Google spokesperson said. "We're happy to support their public education efforts in our hometown."
Prior to the matching grant, the foundation set a preliminary budget of $700,000 in funding for education programs this year. The money will go towards weekly art and music lessons with teachers from the Community School of Music and Arts, as well as supplies for hands-on science lessons. The funding will also pay for an eighth-grade field trip to Yosemite National Park for five days, which serves as a capstone program for environmental education.
The extra funding from Google means the foundation could easily exceed the $700,000 budgeted, and Barnsley said there's no shortage of ways to spend the money. There were plenty of concrete needs in the district this year that weren't included because of budget constraints, she said, including more instruments for the music program and software upgrades for managing the school libraries.
The MVEF leadership will convene in April to decide out how to spend any additional funds, and Barnsley said they are open to suggestions from parents and teachers. And while it's still too early to say how much the foundation will raise, Barnsley said they are ready for big plans next year.
"There is so much goodwill in this community. Everyone wants to see their schools succeed," she said.