Many Hands Make Light Work
Youth Initiative High School does not receive significant financial support from the State of Wisconsin or any other government body. This allows YIHS a pedagogical flexibility and creativity that would not otherwise be possible. But it also offers the daunting challenge of doing it all on our own. Youth Initiative High School exists in a relatively low-income rural community. Our student body is small, and, as with any school, our needs are many. We meet this challenge with cooperation and enthusiasm, and instead of perceiving funding as an obstacle, we make it part of our curriculum and part of our community. Youth Initiative High School envisions itself on the arc of a circle of giving and gratitude. The members of our community, parents, students, and faculty alike, learn how to give and receive, and how to build a community in the process.
COST PER STUDENT
Like all schools, YIHS works hard to be efficient with the money at its disposal. The vast majority of our budget goes to pay our dedicated and creative teachers for the work that they do. For much of our operating expenses we rely on the in-kind donations of the members of our corporation and the wider community, helping us to keep our cost per student ($6000 per annum) much lower than most Waldorf High Schools across the country.
THE PLEDGE SYSTEM AND TUITION-IN-KIND
At Youth Initiative High School the tuition paid by each family is arrived at through a “pledge system”. The amount of tuition each student pays is based on the ability of that student and their family to contribute financially to the school. Each year the finance committee compiles a budget and arrives at a cost per student. The cost per student acts as a guideline in a conversation between the finance committee and the individual families of students. Together they arrive at a figure which allows the school to remain financially secure while making an excellent education available to as many people as possible. Many families simply pay the cost per student each year, some pay more, others less. But money is only one way that families contribute to the cost of educating their children. YIHS depends on the generosity and talents of its members. Whether it be organizing a fundraising dinner, giving expert advice to the finance committee, or simply driving students to and from a field trip,YIHS gives families the opportunity to share their time and unique talents in a way that can bring meaning and community into their lives, while helping to actively facilitate the education of their child.
Student fundraising is a cornerstone of the philosophy of Youth Initiative High School. Asking students to support their own education through cooperative effort with their peers is a form of education not available in a traditional classroom.
And they have fun doing it. From harvesting garlic to staging concerts, students last year raised over $10,000 for the school (about 5% of the overall budget) and consistently exceed their fundraising expectations.
The Parent Committee is also responsible as a group for a portion of the fundraising budget. A good natured rivalry has grown up between the students and their parents as to which group possesses the most fundraising prowess. Parents work together to host community dances, administer raffles, prepare dinners, and more. A common goal helps the parents grow as a community and fundraising becomes fun-raising.
As we enter our 14th academic year our school continues to grow, flourish, and, most importantly, to learn. Parents and students continue to be a vital part, not only of the spirit and governance of our school, but also of its financial stability. The mission of the Youth Initiative High School’s development office is to aid those groups in working to fund the school and to undertake efforts of its own to ensure that this beautiful institution remains on stable financial foundations and is able to grow into the future. The Development office administers the Matching Gift Program which leverages student fundraising efforts with contributions from the wider community. Together we look to widen the networks of giving and gratitude available to our school.