On October 6, 2014, GoFundMe completed a $50,000.00 gift to the Ferguson-Florissant School District to help reinstate the popular ‘Celebrate Children’ music and dance program. Specifically, GoFundMe is donating its 5% fee from Ferguson-related fundraising campaigns back to the community that has endured so much.
GoFundMe worked closely with representatives from the Ferguson-Florissant School District to help determine where an impactful gift could be made. The ‘Celebrate Children’ program is a wonderful opportunity for the students in Ferguson, and many members of the community look forward to it every year.
Laura Modrusic, the Chief Financial Officer for the Ferguson-Florissant School District said of the donation, “This is an unbelievable gift from GoFundMe. I know that our students and families will be very excited to learn that this program has been funded. We are most appreciative of this very generous donation.”
The program had to be cancelled in 2014 due to budget cuts, but GoFundMe’s $50,000.00 gift will be enough to fund the entire 2015 season.
The official press release form the Ferguson-Florissant School District can be found below:
GIFT FROM GOFUNDME CROWDFUNDING WEBSITE FINANCES CELEBRATE CHILDREN PROGRAM FOR FERGUSON-FLORISSANT SCHOOL DISTRICT
A generous, $50,000 gift from the crowdfunding website GoFundMe has enabled the Ferguson-Florissant School District to finance its 19th annual Celebrate Children concert in 2015. The program originally had been cut from the district’s budget due to a $7 million budget deficit for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
Inspired by a visit in 1995 by program director Betsy Anderson to Austin, Texas to observe the Summer Institute of the “Believe in Me” program, Celebrate Children is the only program of its kind in the Midwest and one of just eight in the United States. Using dance to transform lives, Celebrate Children was founded by Anderson and Carl Yochum, retired educators in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. Since 1996 it has helped more than 6,000 children in the District dance across the stage with increased self-confidence.
“This is an unbelievable gift from GoFundMe,” said Laura Modrusic, chief financial officer for the Ferguson-Florissant School District. “I know that our students and families will be very excited to learn that this program has been funded. We are most appreciative of this very generous donation.”
GoFundMe (www.gofundme.com) was founded in May of 2010 by Brad Damphousse and Andrew Ballester. Their mission was to create a simple, online fundraising platform where people could easily raise money for the things that matter to them most. A little over four years later, GoFundMe users have raised over $500 million from more than seven million donors.
According to GoFundMe marketing associate Kelsea Little, the crowdfunding site recently hosted a few campaigns relating to the tragic events in Ferguson that occurred in August 2014. GoFundMe was interested in donating its proceeds of $40,000 back to the community “to make the most positive impact possible for the young people of Ferguson.”
District acting superintendent Larry Larrew and Dr. Gwendolyn Diggs, the District’s chief learning officer, referred Little’s inquiry to Modrusic. After determining that reinstating the Celebrate Children concert would be of wonderful benefit to the students of the district, Modrusic sent information about the program to GoFundMe.
Seeing that the Celebrate Children budget was reduced in order to accommodate the GoFundMe donation of $40,000, GoFundMe chief executive officers Ballester and Damphousse raised the total donation to $50,000.
“After everything that Ferguson has been through, we decided to donate our proceeds from the related campaigns in an effort to do something positive for the community,” said Damphousse. “Learning about the impact that the Celebrate Children program has on the youth in the Ferguson-Florissant community made our decision easy. We’re very excited to be able to bring this program back for the 2015-2016 season.”
The 2014 Celebrate Children program cost more than $92,000 to produce, including rental fees for the Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, professional fees for the director, choreographers, singers and musicians and other ancillary costs. The program generated just over $23,000 in revenue.
Broadway star and 1995 Kennedy Center Honor Recipient Jacques d’Amboise developed the teaching method used for Celebrate Children along with Ellen Weinstein, artistic director of the National Dance Institute. Celebrate Children is based on the belief that the arts can inspire children to achieve excellence both academically and in their personal lives.
The program is available to students in all 17 District elementary schools and all three District middle schools. Children become participants through auditions and staff recommendations, and must attend 25 dance classes before school or on Saturdays to prepare for the annual performance in May. Students are identified not by their talent, but instead by leadership and a willingness to participate in extracurricular activities.
The theme of the 2014 concert was Oh, Freedom!, saluting the efforts of African-Americans, women and Jewish people who have fought for freedom. More than 250 children performed in the concert, with the assistance of educator liaisons at each school.
About the Ferguson-Florissant School District
The Ferguson-Florissant School District, located in suburban St. Louis, serves more than 11,000 students from preschool through 12th comprehensive educational program. Fully accredited by the State of Missouri, the Ferguson-Florissant School District operates 17 elementary schools, three middle schools, three A+ and NCA-CASI-accredited high schools and an alternative school.
In addition, the District includes a nationally recognized early education program, the award-winning Challenger Learning Center space education facility, and the Little Creek Nature Area, a 97-acre nature preserve which offers experiential learning grade with excellent opportunities for students in science, biology, ecology and related areas of study. For more information, visit www.fergflor.org.