FAQS

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SOURCES FOR FUNDRAISING

What is the timeline for fundraising?

ACS and Compass (the nonprofit that oversees the school) worked for four years to secure the BEST funding. In August 2012, the school was successful in its appeal to receive a grant with a 54% match and an extended match deadline of May 1, 2013. (Match percentages vary by school and most BEST grant matches are due on November 1 of the application year.) We met the match, received the grant, and have given ourselves a timeline of December 31, 2014 to complete the total campaign goal, including BEST monies, of $13.1M. We have $4M to go and continue to actively seek contributions to the campaign so we can fully realize our design.

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Who is Compass? Does any portion of the campaign funds go to them?

Since 1970, Compass has provided progressive educational opportunities to people of the Roaring Fork Valley. A nonprofit organization, Compass operates Aspen Community School; its sister charter school, Carbondale Community School; and a private preschool, the Early Childhood Center. Compass employs a comptroller who manages the finances for the organization and its three schools, including those of the campaign. The campaign also contracts the  services of a CPA who provides financial oversight to ensure that all campaign funds stay with the campaign, providing an additional checks and balance. So while 100% of campaign monies go through Compass, 0% of them go to Compass.

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Does all this money go directly to the campus plan or is some reserved for school administration?

100% of campaign funding goes to the campaign; no campaign dollars will go to school operations. They are held in separate accounts with separate oversight. If anything, we’re ensuring that we’re not taking anything away from the classrooms.

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How is the school district involved?

We are among the fortunate charter schools that have a supportive and collaborative relationship with their district. At the launch of the I Believe Campus Campaign, the Aspen School District made a contribution to our campus campaign of $240,931, which was apportioned from their Land Dedication Fees and which sent a strong message of support to the state. This is one of many ways the District supports us; in addition ACS receives:

  • 95% of Per Pupil Revenue
  • 100% Per Pupil share of mill levy funds that come into the district
  • Services such as Special Education oversight, professional development, bus driver
    training, bus maintenance, and student counseling
  • Wide ranging advisory resources, from financial to programming to student assessment

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Are we looking into grants from large corporations, such as Gates, etc?

Yes, we are pursuing all funding avenues, including grants. Based upon our research, grant funding is anticipated to represent a very small portion of this campaign. That being said, in July 2014, the I Believe Campus Campaign received a $125,000 grant from the Community Office for Resource Efficiency to support our energy initiatives.

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What happens if we don’t raise the money (final Phase II funds)?

We always knew we had to raise an additional $2.5 million above and beyond the BEST Grant to realize our dreams for a new campus. If we don’t raise the Phase II funds (now at $4 million, as explained above), there are two worst-case scenarios: stop with an incomplete project or go into debt. Obviously, neither of these are good options. We have to be successful at fundraising to do this and it’s going to take all of us. You can help the campaign by:

  • talking up the school and the campus construction
  • showing community support – be an ambassador for the school
  • sharing digital news with your friends
  • connecting the campaign with prospective donors
  • sending in or making your multi-year pledge

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Have we considered offering naming rights to donors?

Yes, we offer an array of naming opportunities. Interested funders should contact Skye Skinner at 970-923-4646 ext. 217.

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Are there school fundraisers we can leverage?

Yes, events are part of our overall development and communications strategies.

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Are the alumni involved, and how do we engage them?

Yes, alumni are a vital part of our community and of this campaign. You can help by connecting us with any alumni that you know (students and staff) so that we have the most up-to-date contacts for them.

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How much are the parents contributing?

As much as they can! We’re seeking 100% participation from parents and staff. Everyone is digging deep within their family budgets. For example, in the first two weeks of the campaign, the board of trustees and campaign steering committee personally committed more than $260,000. We are encouraging all donors, including parents, to make three-year pledges of support.

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Do the Aspen Education Foundation (AEF) or Aspen Valley Community Foundation (AVCF) plan to contribute any funds for this?

AEF does not fund capital projects. We will be reaching out to AVCF, as we will to all like-minded foundations.

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Is George Stranahan involved?

George’s legacy as an early school director and an enduring philosophical and philanthropic influence on the school is extraordinary. Without the support of George and his wife Patti, whose generosity includes donating the land on which the campus stands, ACS would not be here today. George and Patti have joined the campaign as donors.

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Help me understand the difference between an annual fund and a capital campaign. Why should I give to one when I’m giving to the other?

Let’s start with some definitions. An annual fund is money for the school’s current year operating expenses. Annual gifts make up the difference between what tax dollars cover and the actual cost of running the school. It is like a checking account that helps the school accomplish its daily work. Capital giving, on the other hand, buys brick and mortar building projects — new facilities and major renovations — and sometimes endowment as well. In our case, it’s especially important because as a charter school ACS cannot seek bond funding like other public schools. Because capital project gifts are often larger, you have the option of paying your pledge over two to three years.

The school asks for an annual gift even while you’re making a capital campaign donation for the same reason you have to pay your mortgage while you’re putting an addition on your house. The school must continue to meet its operating costs even as it’s making major improvements.

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Why should I give for new buildings that the school won’t offer until after my child graduates?

In any school, parents of previous generations of students gave the money to fund the resources your child enjoys today. Our children are warmed by the fires built by others.

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And if I don’t have a child in the school?

This response was written by ACS alum and former board member Mark Harvey. We couldn’t say it better ourselves:

“While our efforts are mainly local, our work goes way beyond the confines of the Roaring Fork Valley. Graduates of our programs have gone on to study at some of the nation’s finest universities and have distinguished themselves in areas ranging from public policy to the dramatic arts to wildlife biology and everything in between. Most importantly, many of our graduates have gone on to become community leaders and active citizens who engage in solving societal and environmental problems. While it is impossible to quantify the success of our graduates, in their responses to our questionnaires they repeatedly cite the rich learning environment and tolerant atmosphere at the Community School as one of the foundations to their later success. We strive to make every school year an opportunity for students of all ages to develop their capabilities and imagination in ways that will last a lifetime.”

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