Pine Forest parents start foundation to raise school funds
By Susanna P. Barton
Resident Community News
Parents from Pine Forest School of the Arts, one of the city’s only arts magnet schools, have established a 501(c) 3 foundation to help bridge funding gaps at neighborhood elementary school located just off Emerson Street in San Marco.
Called Friends of Pine Forest School of the Arts, the foundation is the handiwork of about a dozen Pine Forest parents who launched the fundraising arm in late 2011. Their mission? To “maintain and enhance the rigor and quality of the arts programs” at the school and help reinstate a full-time strings teacher and drama teacher whose positions have been reduced this school year.
To do that, the foundation seeks to raise $96,000 a year from local parents, residents and community businesses. They are starting off with a manageable goal. The group’s 2012 Capital Fundraising Campaign aims to raise $20,000 in the short term that will allow the school’s strings teacher to stay on for an additional day and the drama teacher for an additional five hours during the 2012-2013 school year. Foundation Chairman Jonathan Cantor said the group is dedicated to the mission.
“It’s hard to be an arts magnet when you’re losing the staff teaching it,” said Cantor, who has a first- and fourth-grader at the school. His wife, Sarah, is president of the Pine Forest PTA. “We decided to see what we could do — and we decided the best thing we could do was to start a nonprofit organization to raise additional money.”
Pine Forest isn’t the only school to address budget shortfalls with more aggressive nonprofit fundraising support. Nearby Hendricks Avenue Elementary School established a Friends of Hendricks 501(c)3 to help raise money from the local community. Last year’s Family Fun Day Walk-A-Thon generated $40,000 for the group to help offset costs of a new school track. This year’s event was similarly successful.
The Pine Forest foundation is currently adding new members and plans to approach community businesses and corporate sponsors for fundraising dollars. Youth musicians, dance ensembles and strings groups also have been more active and visible in the community to help showcase the school’s offerings and talents. A student dance group performed recently at the Riverside Arts Market and at the Jacksonville Landing.
Cantor wants the community to know that Pine Forest is a feeder school to LaVilla and Douglas Anderson and supporting student arts programs at an early age is a good investment. “It helps develop a stronger cultural base for Jacksonville,” he said.
The group now has a website, described as “in progress,” to share more information about supporting Pine Forest School of the Arts at www.pfsota.com.