Following the money of Downtown school fundraisers


By Anindita Dasgupta

Thousands of Lower Manhattan residents filled the streets earlier this year to enjoy traveling mimes, tables of gourmet food, spinning apples, and karaoke booths.

A plethora of Downtown schools turned out elaborate fundraisers in May and June. Parent and student volunteers manned tables, food stands, kids’ booths and auctions to raise money for arts and enrichment programs for their schools.

P.S. 234 & P.S. 150

Perhaps one of the largest and longest running fundraisers is P.S. 234 and P.S. 150’s annual Taste of Tribeca festival. The event completed its 12th year this May, when it drew between 5,000 and 7,000 people to Greenwich and Duane Sts.

The event, which features samplings of food from neighborhood restaurants, was created by parents from P.S. 234 and P.S. 150 to raise money for arts and enrichment programs. This year, the schools raised about $240,000, with $95,000 for each school and the rest of the money set aside for next year’s Taste.

Due to three other restaurant festivals taking place on the same day, the turnout for this year’s Taste wasn’t as large as past years, organizers said. However, Jill Strickerman-Ripps, a Taste Committee head, said she felt the extra room actually contributed to the festival’s success. “It didn’t feel as crowded,” she said. “People could walk around this year.”

Between 200 and 300 parents volunteered for this year’s event, some starting at 7 a.m. Various committees oversaw the event, with separate committees looking after entertainment, sponsors, sanitation and merchandising. “It runs like a professional organization,” she said.

Citigroup and other businesses also set up tables to raise funds for more than just the public schools. Citigroup raised $1,800 for the World Food Program, an organization that funds food programs in schools throughout the world.

P.S. 234 will use the money to fund their music program, where fourth and fifth graders have the chance to pick instruments and enjoy weekly music lessons from multiple music teachers.

P.S. 150 will use the funds to continue their arts and enrichment program by supporting their famed modern and ballroom dance program (which was part of Amy Sewell’s inspiration for her film “Mad Hot Ballroom”), storytelling, and collaboration with local artists and museums. Specifically, this year’s funds will also benefit technology enrichment.

P.S./I.S. 89

The World Financial Center esplanade and marina were alive with about 5,000 parents and students from the Battery Park City schools Sunday, May 21 for their second annual Carnival on the Hudson to raise money for enrichment programs, basic materials for teachers and equipment for their gyms and libraries.

Parents arranged for carnival rides and Michael Fortenbaugh, commodore of the Manhattan Sailing School, offered Lil’ Toot Boat rides around the Hudson River.

Only in its second year, the carnival raised $40,000 in gross profits and $60,000 in sponsorship money. The money raised from the carnival will be used to continue enrichment, by funding programs such as dance, music and Spanish.

“I anticipate that this event will become one of the biggest community events in the neighborhood,” said Liz Pappas, P.S. 89’s P.T.A. president. “Everyone really enjoys the location of the Carnival along with the homespun feel that it brings to Battery Park City.”

Washington Market Preschool

What was originally planned to be a simple anniversary celebration turned into a gala birthday party and fundraiser as Washington Market celebrated its 30th birthday in high class at the Cipriani Club on May 10.

The night was peppered with various forms of tributes to the school, including speeches by administrators and a short film about the school’s history that was made by parents. Parents also enjoyed both silent and live auctions, through which funds were raised for the school. In addition, Washington Market also received numerous donations by parents who wrote checks ranging from $250 to $5,000. Ticket sales also raked in money as partygoers paid anywhere from $150 to $300 per person.

With over 400 people attending the event, Washington Market raised about $300,000 to help students and teachers in a number of ways. Some of the money will go to an air conditioning system at the school’s Duane St. location. Other funds will pay for construction for the Hudson St. location’s drama program, such as better ventilation and privacy walls. In addition, funds from the gala will be allocated to teachers for staff development. Teachers will be given $500 per semester to enroll in a course for their class’ enrichment. Finally, funds will also be used to help pay for teachers’ pension plans.

Battery Park Day Nursery

Battery Park Day Nursery School families feasted at their annual hayride-barbeque Thursday, May 11. Members of the community rode around Rector Park in Battery Park City during their annual hayride. The traditional potluck barbeque followed the event, at the Nursery, where parents organized free games for the children like, beanbag toss, floating ducks and hopscotch.

Through raffles for various prizes donated by local merchants, the school raised $700 for their creative arts program, including music, dance and yoga instruction.

Church Street School for Music and Art

Church Street School parents bid on valuable music and art items in a silent auction on June 8 as a fundraiser for the school.

Entries up for bid included: a Lenny Kravitz autographed iPod, a private tour of the Met, a David Rockwell-designed guitar, professional recording sessions, a basket of children’s musical instruments, a host of items autographed by musicians such as the Beastie Boys, an array of artwork, and getaways to cultural hotspots around the globe.

The third annual “On the Map!” auction, which was organized by school board members and run by parent volunteers and staff, was held at Gallery Viet Nam in Tribeca. Organizers raised $45,000, which more than doubled proceeds from last year.

The school credits their special venue, the generosity of their corporate sponsor, The Albanese Organization, quantity and quality of this year’s items, and community participation for the event’s success. Funds from the auction will go towards daily operations of the school, including paying for: teachers’ salaries, art supplies, instrument repairs, and building maintenance.

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