Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Making the PRO Grant Work for Your School - Patricia Bulley and Lisa MacDonald

Making the PRO Grant Work for Your School - Patricia Bulley and Lisa MacDonald

We have participated in the process of applying for PRO (Parents Reaching Out) GRANTS since 2011.  This Ministry grant is a fantastic initiative that helps school councils to reach out and engage their parent community
Receiving a PRO Grant offers schools the financial support to provide resources and gives the parent council the opportunity to address critical issues within their community.  It's great how each school can apply for what is essential and relevant to that individual school community. 
These grants help to bring parents together and assists in addressing extremely important topics such as: mental health, healthy living, internet safety, understanding money, dealing with bullying and more. 
It has been our experience that the best way to engage parents is by including the children
Inviting parents and children to the same event or having something for the children in the day to get the children talking about the topic, and then hosting something for the parents in the evening are options to consider.  
We decide on what to apply for based on community needs. Each year we discuss our school need at our council meetings, realizing that not everyone can make it to the meetings, we reach out to the greater community by sending out a survey.  Once the data is collected we decide on what to apply for.
There are a number of service-based organizations that provide excellent programming that can be funded using the PRO Grant.  In the past we have assisted in organizing successful outreach using: 
• Arts Express http://www.artsexpress.ca
Toronto District School Board partners can be found at https://pims.tdsb.on.ca/Home.aspx/OurPartnersSome of these organizations may be appropriate for a PRO Grant submission.
The PRO Grant is also fairly flexible. A school council can “build” their own PRO Grant event ie. for wellness events that feature nutrition, cooking, yoga or even a family game night.
Many councils may be intimidated by the idea of writing a PRO Grant submission.  The format is very simple and user-friendly. At the time of submission you need to know the basic WHAT, HOW and WHY, but they only require one or two sentences for each category. Any school who has successfully completed a PRO Grant would likely be willing to share their template of the application – we certainly would!

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Norseman JMS PRO Grant by Valerie Light

LOVE PRO GRANTS!
This December from 630-830, Norseman Junior Middle School hosted a successful screening of the documentary film entitled SCREENAGERS. The evening was a success in part due to the informative and realistic movie content and to the structure of the evening. The evening itself was made possible due to the PRO GRANT funding we received, which clearly outlined how and where the funds could be used. We wanted to make attending this event, as easy as possible for parents.  It was simple: register online and attend for free!  Pizza, clementines and baby-sitting (for students too young to view the film) were available and free for all.  
This event was visibly publicized by displaying posters throughout the school and in local community centers and shops. Additionally, as the students viewed this film at school, parents could easily discuss it and empower their children to make positive online choices.
After viewing the film, parents had a chance to discuss the content and suggested solutions contained in the film with other parents. As Delaney presented her experiences in a raw and vulnerable way, it facilitated an ease of discussion amongst parents. It connected our school community further, as concerted parents and also provided a hopeful way forward.  Parents were able to share their comments with the larger group, if they desired and they received a door prize for voicing their views.
Obtaining a PRO GRANT was a simple process of filling out an online form. When a question arose, I there was a number to call, with a live person at the other end who found the answer I required!
We are grateful this funding exists! Looking forward to the next PRO GRANT event!

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

School Councils & School Cash Online

Currently there are 2 options:

1)   Consolidating all of the school’s and school council’s online transactions through the school’s one school generated funds bank account:
§  Currently all school councils are welcome to post their items through the school’s school cash online account.  
§  The office secretary would be able to post the items on behalf of school council and provide detailed reports to the school council on how much is collected.
§  The office secretary can also help issue payments that correspond to those collections, and also benefit from HST rebates through the system (10.84% of the transactions). This way all inflows and outflows are tracked through one system, and the school council bank account will no longer be needed. Reconciliations will be done at the school level and parents will no longer have to do any record keeping or submit PSAB reports for the separate accounts at year end.
§  If the school council still wants to maintain their own bank account, then the school can also redirect proceeds to the school council via cheque payment.

2)   School Councils to utilize the school cash online for posting of items only while maintaining their own bank account:
-   The office secretary can post the items on behalf of school councils, but direct all inflows to the school council bank account. We will need a copy of the school council account’s void cheque to conduct a penny test for the funds transfer.
-   The office secretary would provide detailed reports to the school council on how much is collected.
-   The school council will issue the payments from their own bank account, and manage their own bank reconciliations and year end PSAB reporting. There will be no HST rebates earned by the school, if the payments are not processed through the school cash online system.

All school councils can utilize the school cash online system for posting and reporting purposes. However, this must be done through the school office. 

KEV Group does have a separate add-on module that can potentially allow parents and teachers to log on and pull the reports themselves. However, we have not yet considered this for roll out because of the high costs associated with this module, as well as privacy concerns with parents obtaining access to student information (name, classroom, grade, student #). We are reviewing parent feedback to determine whether it is worthwhile to purchase after some customization. We currently have about 350 schools on School cash online, and still have over 230 schools that have not yet implemented the system. So if we do purchase this module, it would be after full implementation in 2018-19.

Also, the online donation module is currently available to all schools regardless of whether they are on the system. Link to the site: https://tdsb.schoolcashonline.com/Fee/Details/457/153/false/true . Parent councils are welcome to advertise this link when fundraising for their school, so that the donors (anyone in the public) can donate and get a tax receipt for their donations immediately at check out.

If you have other questions, feel free to contact me directly. I would love to hear from the group and see how we can improve in this area.

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