Until this past year, MCA’s Parent-Teacher Fellowship sponsored fundraising projects at the school which involved selling chocolate. Over the past four years, our students and families sold approximately $17,000 worth of Hershey’s candy bars, which netted an average of $8,000 in profit for non-budgeted expenses at the school. That’s not bad, but for many parents, their involvement in the candy sale meant that their family basically bought the candy themselves, either giving it away or consuming it over time. And it also seemed that the effort needed to raise $17,000 in order to get $8,000 in return was a lot.
So, looking at what other private schools do to raise funds for needs that fall outside of the budget, which is funded by tuition, we decided to simply ask each family to make a $200 contribution to the school. This would provide several benefits. The school would receive all of the money, rather than paying 60% of it to a candy company. Parents can help the school, ultimately benefitting their own children, and the $200 is tax deductible, whereas tuition is not. Many private, religious-based schools offer their parents a “fundraising fee” option, allowing them to make a contribution instead of selling things to raise money.
Tuition is the reality of private education. We are an independent school, which means we are not subject to regulations and policies that are tied to receiving tax dollars, many of which are incompatible with our Christian convictions and principles. At MCA, we are able to offer a tuition rate that is far below the average for private, religious-based schools in the city of Chicago for several reasons. One is that Midwest Bible Church owns the school facilities, which are debt-free. Other than maintenance and insurance, our building expenses are low. Our teachers make a sacrifice in accepting a lower salary than their public school counterparts, because teaching in a Christian school is also a ministry offering to the Lord. These two factors alone account for a savings to parents of $3,500 per year, per student.
In spite of having tuition and fees that are among the very lowest for private schools of any kind in the city of Chicago, MCA offers more than the typical private, religious-based school. We are fully accredited, which is a recognition of the excellence of our academic program, our school operations and safety, the quality and qualifications of our staff, and the spiritual life of the school community. We offer extra-curricular programs in athletics and fine arts. With the average private school tuition among Christian schools in greater Chicago at $17,000, at private schools in the city at $15,000 and a public school cost per student at $15,000 per year, MCA is a bargain.
Over the past five years, MCA has been blessed to receive contributions from many people who are supporters of Christian school education. Midwest Bible Church alone has been responsible for more than $250,000 in direct assistance to the school, not counting the more than $350,000 provided for building upgrades and renovations in 2018. The Gies Foundation became one of our major donors last year, when they provided a contribution of $150,000 for the gym renovations and other donors contributed over $50,000 to this project. This year, more than $30,000 in contributions has been received for the playground, now in the process of being installed on our property, all of that coming from individuals outside the school community.
Many generous donors to Christian schools are encouraged when they see the parent community contributing to the school’s needs beyond the tuition and fees they pay. While that does represent a sacrifice for many families, the amount parents pay in tuition and fees does not cover the full cost of a child’s education at MCA. Beyond the candy sales of the past few years, we received only $400.00 in contributions from our parent community this year.
We have two specific fund-raising opportunities going on at the present time for which we would like to ask parents to help. The suggested donation of $200 per family will help us raise an additional $19,800 we need to complete payment on the playground equipment. We have received over $30,000 from outside donors for this addition to our campus. And we need to raise an additional $18,400 to cover the expense of renovating the art room, a project completed last summer, which also included replacement of baseboards and carpeting in some areas of the school.
If each of our families makes a $200 contribution, which is tax deductible, we would cover most of the cost of these non-budget items and will be able to work with PTF next school year to identify other areas where additional funding is needed. Of course, contributions are not limited to $200, nor is that a required amount. We ask that you give to this as a ministry, whatever amount the Lord leads you to contribute. We pray that God blesses your gift, and that it reflects your appreciation for the school’s ministry.
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