Why Aren’t More People Crowd Funding Schools?


My past couple of posts have been focused on policy analysis.

This post is more exploratory in nature.

The question: why aren’t more middle to upper income people crowd funding schools?

The Financial Picture

  1. Let’s say 100 middle to high-income parents are all considering to send their children to private school for kindergarten.
  1. At 15K per year per kid of private schooling, each family’s estimated real costs for schooling are 15K per year x 13 years, which equals 195K.
  1. 195K is a lot of money.
  1. Charter start-ups cost are about 2K per seat.
  1. A school with a 100 student starting kindergarten class that grew by one grade each year would mature into a 1,300 seat K-12 school.
  1. All told, that’s about 2.6 million in start-up costs, or 26K per family. And that’s if none of the other parents who attend the school ever pitched in a penny.
  1. So if each of these families each agree to put-up 26K (at most) in a start-up fund to launch a charter school, this school will save them about a 170K over each child’s life. 
  1. The actually saving might be lower in that eventually they would have to pay higher taxes to support more public schools students, but they would still be accessing a tax base that includes citizens that don’t have children / send their children to private schools.
  1. So that’s at least 150K at stake per family. For a family of three, that’s nearly 500K.

Perhaps It’s Already Somewhat Happening

  1. Many wealthy families utilize geographic enrollment zoning to accomplish similar ends.
  1. Some suburban charter schools are created in a somewhat similar fashion as described above.
  1. Socioeconomically diverse charter schools are harnessing the funds and political support of the wealthy to create public charter schools that families of all income levels are comfortable sending their children to.
  1. But even if it’s happening in some ways, crowd sourcing does not appear to be happening at scale in the deliberate manner I described above.

Three Questions to Ponder

  1. Why isn’t this type of crowdsourcing more common?
  1. Will it become more common?
  1. Would all children be better off if it became more common?

I could imagine benefits in great new schools being created, as well as major equity concerns. 

But regardless of the merits, I’m very curious to see if it will become more common. 

What do you think? 


4 thoughts on “Why Aren’t More People Crowd Funding Schools?

  1. badgehs

    Our rural Appalachian school (boosters) just raised half a million for turf for a football field.

    I’ve never seen a campaign for science equipment, computers, iPads, subscriptions, makerSpace, paint, or anything else. (Save athletics and music).

    Our school buildings are 100, 90, and 60 years old with no major renovations. The HS boiler alone is on the verge of a $6m repair.

    We just don’t think that way about paying for learning.

    I know a lady with a beautiful log home in the country, ~ 3 acres, (plus summer camper in a private lake park, new trucks, 4-wheeler toys for the whole family) who insists that she “can’t afford” her current taxes. Yet she’s expecting 17 years of education for her three sons.

    I spend my days thinking about how to unbundle high school and package learning in ways that support crowd-sourcing. If we do that, it will be a big start.

    1. nkingsl

      Thx for the comment – yes, I fully agree that our spending priorities can be way out of whack.

      Unbundling could hope, but probably only if families had a way to control how their dollars were spent.

      1. badgehs

        Neerav, exactly! When students/families have a say in what and how they learn!

        Here’s a look at just a first year in a new way of doing things. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B09HxOmWlIRGTnp4WFZ0RUxUdVk/edit?usp=sharing It’s not an end vision, just a first year of doing things differently.

        Once you set up such a marketplace (law here supports it now), you begin to change how the whole community views the role and place of a high school. And start to change how they look at resourcing it.

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