This is the third post that explores the three vectors of growth that drive our business:
- More schools
- More students
- More money
Let’s explore more MONEY.
The most important aspect of FirstRoot is that we’re putting real money into the hands of students. Unlike stock market trading games or simulations, in which there is little motivation and zero consequence for financial decisions, the real money foundation of FirstRoot creates intrinsic motivation to manage the money well and create a positive impact in the school.
More money? Greater impact.
We’ve found that a good starting budget is $1,000 to $10,000. The objective is to create a budget for the first Participatory Budgeting program that is meaningful for the kids but not so large that adults will take over the program. We have a preference for larger budgets at higher grades because older kids have more life experience with money.
Subsequent Participatory Budgeting programs build on the success of the initial program and provide opportunities to increase the budget. All stakeholders learn through direct experience that students make excellent choices and that they can be entrusted with increasingly large amounts of money.
Here are some examples of budgets given to students:
- Toki Middle School in Madison, WI gave their students a $30,000 budget. The source of these funds were federal ESSER grants – a great way to leverage federal money to create a powerful learning experience.
- The initial Participatory Budgeting program budget at Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, CA was $2,000. An effective fundraising campaign spearheaded by FirstRoot raised $5,045 for their second program.
- In the 2020-2021 school year, sixteen high schools in Chicago were given $10,000 by the Chicago Public School District to implement Participatory Budgeting programs.
While we are advocates of giving students as much money for their Participatory Budgeting programs as possible, we recognize that the entrenched funding inequities of schools can inadvertently create similar inequities in Participatory Budgeting programs.
Put more simply, we do not want Participatory Budgeting programs to be a rich program for rich schools.
To help ensure this does not happen, FirstRoot is committed to the following:
- Creating mechanisms in which students of more affluent schools can sponsor programs in less affluent schools. We refer to this as ‘Pay It Forward” proposals (although we expect our students to create even cooler names for this capability).
- Sponsoring schools through grants distributed by the FirstRoot School Fund. You can help by contributing to the fund.
- Developing fundraising solutions that directly benefit students.
What are your ideas on how we can get more money into the hands of kids? I’d love to hear from you.