After a month of tireless activity by parents, teachers, principals, and students, the good news came this morning: Menlo Park’s schools would receive a $50,000 challenge grant from an anonymous, local donor. The Participation Challenge sought to increase the number of families in the Menlo Park City School District that supported its four schools through the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation (MPAEF). The magic number? 80%.
The generous donor launched the Participation Challenge last year, when the MPAEF achieved 74% participation. Why do it again? “Last year, we saw how powerful the challenge grant was in inspiring families to show their support for our schools. It is so important that we all know we’re in this together — showing our appreciation for the education every one of our children receives in the District by contributing, however we can, toward community-supported education.” explains the donor, who is a District parent.
It worked: The MPAEF announced it had reached a record-setting participation level of 83%.
But it had been down to the wire, with 57 more families needed on Thursday (2/27), the last day of the Challenge. Students at Hillview lent their support with spirit days promoting a healthy competition between the school’s Academies. A special guest last week was the SF Bulls hockey team mascot, Rawhide (shown with Hillview’s student council leaders).
Throughout the Challenge, all eyes were on the family countdown signs that hung on each campus and were regularly updated by parents and students. Some elementary campuses also encouraged participation by wearing red — the Foundation color — and energetically waving signs at school pick up and drop off.
While the $50,000 grant is a boon for the schools, it is a small part of the $4 million the MPAEF hopes to raise this year. But Executive Director Lynne Van Tilburg underscores its importance to the schools and our community: “Meeting the Participation Challenge was about much more than the $50,000 on the line. While our schools will certainly benefit from the funds, what matters most is demonstrating our unity in supporting our schools. Every family wants to provide the best possible education for their children and by coming together we can ensure this continues to happen in the Menlo Park City School District.”