Best Practices for Schools to Connect with and
Pay for Programs from Cultural Organizations
by Charlotte D’Armond Talbert, Scientific and Cultural Collaborative Coordinator
OVERVIEW: Funding for School Programs
The benefits of brining cultural organizations to your school are many. They can provide exposure, enrichment and engagement to students by connecting them with professionals in an authentic experience.
The Dilemma: Schools can’t pay and Organizations can’t do free programs.
The two top reasons teachers often give for not being able to bring in external providers (cultural organizations) to the school or visiting them on field trips were:
1. money for the program
2. money for buses
Cultural organizations face a similar dilemma. They cannot provide programs for free because even though education programs are generally considered part of their mission, they are also required to pay for themselves and provide revenue. Also “Doing
it for free” doesn’t always promote the value of the arts and culture in a community.
Artists, managers, administrators, musicians, dancers, singers, actors and in –school presenters all must be paid to offset transportation costs, supplies, staff time to develop a program, etc.
Schools have costs as well:
Typical cost for a bus from Aurora, Arvada, or Broomfield to go to a downtown site is $175-225 per bus.
Typical cost for a substitute teacher to accompany students when needed is $110-120.
Typical cost for an in-school classroom presenter: $75 -$150 per class. For assemblies: two presentations back-to-back $500-$750.
What are the best ways to connect with an organization for a cultural experience?
Know your school and district regulations about field trips, assemblies or guests in your classroom
Learn about their programs before you call or email (check out their websites) – consider going to the site for a field trip if you haven’t been there before
Call or email as soon as possible in the school year to get best dates as well as later in the year as sometimes funding can become available mid-year
contact an organization early to ask about MATCHING or partial funding
take care that as you schedule a field trip you ask about: fees, study guides, bus parking, group rates, options for bag lunches or snacks, and express your requirements for any special needs students
provide several possible dates for a program rather than just one since culturals serve hundreds of schools
help with time scheduling by arrange for back-to-back performances or classroom program since many presenters are also full-time employees elsewhere
provide adequate space for the activity – tables and sinks for art, uncarpeted floor for dance, etc.
provide publicity about the event – local newspapers, your school and district website
prepare students prior to the event and let the organization know what has been covered in the curriculum before the visit
participate in workshop and be present in the classroom or at the assembly (the presenter cannot be alone in the room without a school representative)
teachers should model the action they want their students to emulate – pay attention to the presenter and be active (please don’t grade papers, work on a computer or talk on the phone)
share photos of those students who have given permission for their use and thank you notes after the visit to help cultural staff promote their efforts to funders, Board members and administrative staff
What are some possible sources of funding to help pay for the program?
Note: You may have a higher chance of receiving funding from an organization if your school provides part
of the cost as you become a partner in the activity.
ïƒ˜ To pay for buses, some school districts allow for a local business to sponsor the cost of buses in
exchange for their name or banner on the bus.
ïƒ˜ Students may be are asked to pay for the event cost (ticket) and/or at least a portion of the bus.
Those who cannot are often paid for by a generous teacher or departmental funds. Note: check first
as some school districts restrict this practice.
ïƒ˜ Teachers often make arrangements to use departmental funds (now more and more limited) to pay
for buses or a classroom presenter.
ïƒ˜ School districts may have funding available through “mini-grants” that can off-set the cost of a
presenter, assembly or field trip.
ïƒ˜ Fundraisers of all sorts: magazine sales, braided bread dough, candy, etc. are done through the
school using products especially designed for this purpose.
ïƒ˜ An activity fee may charged at the beginning of school ranging from $30-$250 (depending on the
affluence of the area) which is intended to cover these costs.
ïƒ˜ Sponsorships from local real estate, insurance, car dealerships, restaurants, etc. can be arranged
so that the school advertises the business with a banner or some other method and the business
donates funds for field trips or activities.
ïƒ˜ In elementary schools, PTO (parent teacher organizations), Accountability Committees and other
groups often provide funds for one field trip per grade level, per year
ïƒ˜ For bringing a cultural to your area - create a partnership - work with other schools, churches,
Scout groups, etc. to sponsor a visit and make a tour to your school and area possible. Cultural
organizations like to get the maximum exposure in a community to offset the time, effort and costs
that a tour requires. Offer to distribute their season brochure, provide a meal or help to maximize
ïƒ˜ Offer your space - some cultural organizations tour the state and often are looking for places to
rehearse or perform. Your school may have a suitable space to offer a school performance prior to
an evening presentation.
ïƒ˜ If performance group comes to town, ask the sponsoring organization if they can help arrange for a
school visit as often the artists are eager to perform at school prior to their program at a cultural
organization. Ex: When “The Persuasions” came to the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities,
they did a school assembly for a local school.
ïƒ˜ Arrange for students to have a cart with school supplies to sell before school and nutritional snacks
after school with donations from a local mega-store.
ïƒ˜ Ask, ask, ask! Many organizations receive unrestricted money to serve schools, but they don’t have
staff to call or connect with teachers – they are waiting and hoping you will call or email.
RESOURCES FOR TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS
Resources for Teachers to Seek Funding: Teachers may find grants for a specific purpose (drop-out
prevention, community building, career choices.)
ï‚· http://colorado.grantwatch.com/collection.php?cat=41 Colorado Grant Watch
ï‚· http://www.cde.state.co.us/edtech/grants.htm CDE Educational Grants for Colorado Educators
ï‚· http://www.edweek.org/tm/ Teacher’s Weekly magazine
ï‚· http://www.target.com Grants from Target Stores for school programs
Resources for Teachers to Learn about Cultural Programs
ï‚· The Directory of Educational Activities for Teachers and Schools is an annual catalog listing nearly
200 education programs from the SCC culturals as a one-stop source for assemblies, field trips,
professional teacher training and more. www.Sccollaborative.org
ï‚· TEA - Teacher Email Advantage Service is a monthly email of special offers (in and out of school,
discount offers professional teacher training, etc.) Sign up with an email to
ï‚· Arts Education Guidebook is a compendium of information to help Colorado educators keep and grow
arts education in their schools including connections to networking opportunities.
ï‚· Think 360 Arts Complete Education is a non-profit with a variety of resources for teachers to connect
to the arts including resources for the classroom, presenters, and training institutes.
For metro- Denver area schools: The SCFD is the Scientific and Cultural Facilities
District which is a cultural tax in the 7 county metro areas. The District includes Adams, Arapahoe,
Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson counties. Many of the 300 organizations the SCFD funds
use this money to reach into schools. However, generally it cannot be used outside the District. Learn
more at www.scfd.org