Community Chest Spotlight: Sewanee Elementary School

The 2016–17 Sewanee Community Chest (SCC) Fund Drive is underway. Sponsored by the Sewanee Civic Association, the SCC raises money yearly for local charitable organizations serving the area. This year’s goal is $116,850 for 26 organizations that have requested basic needs funding for quality of life, community aid, children’s programs, and those who are beyond Sewanee but still serve the entire community.

Since 1867 there has been a long-standing relationship between the community and the public school. For years this voluntary community commitment maintained the educational system, such as St. Paul’s on the Mountain school and the school on Billy Goat Hill. When the Sewanee Civitan Club (now the Sewanee Civic Association) was first organized, its objective of good citizenship included “a comprehensive program for the betterment and improvement of every phase of community activity.” (Chitty) This included providing school facilities.

At that time, the Franklin County Board of Education agreed to pay the salaries of teachers, but did not provide the buildings. The University at that time was unable to help with the expenses. Funding for a new public school became a community goal. The school building would be on University leasehold land, owned by the Sewanee Civitan Club, and operated by the Franklin County School Board. Funds were raised in the community and the Sewanee Public School was completed in 1927 through volunteer efforts.

In 1933, the community built the Roosevelt Addition. In 1943, more than half of the town’s SCC budget went to maintain the school, and fund programs for enrichment and the purchase of supplies. The county took over the maintenance of the school in 1955 when the building and land were turned over to the county as long as a school remained on that site.

The Sewanee Elementary School (SES) continues to rely on yearly funding from the SCC to meet the school’s needs. This funding commitment “has served the intentional purpose of eliminating the door-to-door fundraising.” (Chitty) The Sewanee Elementary Parent Organization (SES PO), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, requests and disburses the SCC funds each year for SES. All money received is used for yearly support to the school. The SES PO works with teachers and staff to find solutions to specific educational needs of the school that are not met by the Franklin County School system funding or services. The SCC is the primary source of revenue for the SES PO operating expenses. The SES PO also receives money through annual dues and small fundraisers such as T-shirt sales.

This year the SES PO will receive $24,200 if the SCC goal is met. The money raised for the school will help to fund: classroom supplies, including the purchase of a new kiln for the art program; the library for new books, eBooks and material purchases; enrichment funds for Friday School, Field Day and academic tutoring; work study salaries for part-time University student classroom helpers; and professional development funds to support travel and registration costs for dyslexia/autism training, writing and math conferences.

Since 1908, the goal of the SCC has been to help citizens by funding the community. Through SCC funding, local organizations can help those caught in the cycle of poverty, improve quality of life through outreach and community initiatives, and provide support for children with a variety of programs. The SCC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and donations are tax-deductible. Send your donation to Sewanee Community Chest, P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375. You can also donate through Paypal.com.

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