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Citypaper & One of Our Funders

My name is Jacob and I am the Philadelphia Student Union`s lead fundraiser. I believe that when organized high school students are given the proper tools and support they can lead a movement to profoundly improve Philadelphia`s public schools. When I was a member of the Philadelphia Student Union in 2001, my peers and I lead one of the largest movement`s this city has seen to stop the destruction and privatization of Philadelphia`s public schools.

We were a diverse group of students from across the city. We met multiple times a week in a tiny office, learning, eating pizza and strategizing. We strategized about how we would stop Edison Schools Inc. — a for-profit company with a huge PR budget that was supported by the governor and the School Reform Commission — from taking over and further devastating our schools.

We organized our schools and communities. In coalition with groups across the city we brought 1,000s of people to City Hall, to Harrisburg, and to Edison`s doorstep.

After it was all said and done, we declared a substantial victory. We saved the central administration; not one high school was privatized; a much smaller number of middle & elementary schools were given to private companies than originally proposed. Following their defeat, Edison`s high-priced stock plummeted to pennies.

None of it would have been possible without the support of a large group of individual donors, a small number of foundations, and countless supporters like you, who brought us donuts, volunteered their legal expertise, and answered numerous calls to action.

Today we find ourselves in a similar situation . We have a governor that has demonstrated he is unwilling to adequately fund our schools. A for-profit company, Boston Consulting Group (BSG) was hired to create a plan to improve Philly`s schools and instead created a plan to privatize our schools. It is not enough to fight off another attempt at privatization, we must use this moment to take steps towards our vision for a public school system in which all people receive a high quality education.

It is going to take some resources and a lot of work.

For 17 years our foundation partners have helped pay the salaries of our hardworking staff and keep the computers on in our media lab. As the Citypaper has reported recently* a foundation that has been one of our largest funders for over 10 years will probably not renew our funding this Fall.

We`ve known this for some time and have planned and fundraised accordingly. We have a little over a year to replace this funder. While we`ve been fortunate to receive funding from a few foundations for many years, the nature of many foundations is that grant cycles end, priorities shift and money dries up. Strong and sustainable organizations need to receive money from many sources.

We don`t take government money and we won`t compromise our work to chase money.

We will continue to build relationships with supportive foundations. We`re finishing a plan to raise $85,000 in one year from individuals like you. It`s a big jump for us, last year we raised $30,000 from individuals. Our staff has committed to spending 1 hour a week on fundraising. Our members and board will continue to learn about and practice fundraising.

We`re going to need a few people to give a lot ($8,500 anyone?), and a lot of people to give a little.

Two days ago we started our 9th annual summer leadership institute, Building a Youth Movement (BAYM). For two weeks our members will learn the history, information, and skills they need to lead a movement to profoundly improve Philadelphia`s public schools.

Will you support these high school students this month and for years to come by becoming a sustainer right now?

Sign up now to donate $50,$25 or $10 a month.



p.s. If you want to talk about that $250 – $8,500+ donation email me at Jacob [at] phillystudentunion [dot] org and we`ll set up a time to talk.


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