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The PTA Equity Project (PEP) Committee announced recently that all 16 Evanston/Skokie District 65 PTAs voted over the last several weeks to participate in the One Fund Initiative. The One Fund Initiative is an equity measure intended to ensure that District 65 students have equitable access to PTA resources, regardless of the school they attend. All PTAs will begin fundraising for the PEP Fund, held by the Evanston Community Foundation, beginning this month.

“We are thrilled the individual District 65 School PTA memberships voted in favor of supporting the PEP One Fund. We are also grateful that a local family foundation (that chooses to remain anonymous) has offered $10,000 in matching funds to kick-off our first unified fundraising efforts for the One Fund Initiative,” said PEP Co-Chair Elisabeth Lindsay-Ryan. “We look forward to moving towards greater equity and opportunity for every student in the district,” added Co-Chair Suni Kartha.

The PTA Equity Project is the result of several years of highly collaborative work to analyze parent fundraising in the district and to propose an intervention to ensure greater equity for all students. PEP began in December 2016 with the support of the Evanston/Skokie PTA Council and includes representatives from each PTA. The goal of PEP since its inception has been to examine PTA policies, practices, and procedures to determine what, if any, inequities actually exist and also what, if any, interventions could address those uncovered.

The One Fund Initiative is groundbreaking for the District 65 community, where efforts to consolidate PTA fundraising date back decades. It is also believed to be one of the few successful equitable parent fundraising models for any school district in the nation. PEP has already achieved success in uniting PTAs for an equitable approach to a common purpose. From March through August 2020, in response to sudden school closures and economic uncertainty in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, PEP mobilized to provide assistance to more than 700 local families to address food insecurity, housing, childcare, and other essential needs.

By centralizing PTA reserve funds, as well as raising thousands of dollars from individual and corporate donors, PEP was able to ensure that families across the District had equitable access to financial support, regardless of the school their children attended. In addition, in April 2020, PEP partnered with the Evanston Community Foundation and Foundation 65 to provide 200 Chrome Books to District 65 students so they can access remote learning as long as the COVID-19 crisis requires it.

The role that PTAs play in fostering community and providing resources to enrich student learning in and out of the classroom will be even more vital for children and families throughout and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. As PEP looks to the future, the One Fund Initiative will keep a critical focus on equitable funding to assure more and better access to opportunities for all kids.

Mission:

The PTA Equity Project ensures that students across Evanston/Skokie District 65 have more equitable access to PTA resources through the PEP Fund.  The PEP Fund is maintained by the Evanston Community Foundation (“ECF”), a tax-exempt, autonomous philanthropic institution that, with equity at the center of its mission, houses a variety of funds that support the Evanston community. The PEP Fund is held by ECF through a formal agreement with the District 65 PTA Council. All decisions about how and when funds should be collected and disbursed are made by the PEP Committee, in accordance with Illinois PTA rules and IRS non-profit regulations. More information is available at www.ptaequityproject.com