The Origin of Dollars4Schools: Creating a Local Helping Hand

The Origin of Dollars4Schools

In 2010, after attending a Santa Fe Public School board meeting where teachers spoke about the lack of basic supplies in their classrooms, local business owners Pat and Michael French were determined to find a platform to let the public directly help Santa Fe teachers in need. While national resources existed to help teachers lacking classroom supplies, Dollars4Schools (D4S) would be unique in that all funds raised privately would go 100% to meeting local teacher needs.

Pat took on the task of introducing the program to the Superintendent of Schools, Bobbie Gutierrez, who immediately supported the concept. Getting teacher support came through as the result of multiple meetings. In these early days, staff helped teachers submit funding requests through D4S — their needs encompassed meeting the cost of field trips, books, art supplies, gardening programs, science fairs, athletic equipment, and much more.

Word of mouth spread, and key advisors that joined the team were Ali MacGraw, Leslie Lujan, Terry Brewer,  Satya Kirsch, Patty Carter, Kay Neuhaus, Ken Bateman and Barbara Gudwin.   Business leaders and companies that donated were led by  Paul Margetson  (Hotel Santa Fe), Jenny Kimball (La Fonda), Chip Chippeaux (Century Bank) Liz Cale ( Santa Fe Properties), Sotheby’s International Realty, and the Santa Fe Association of Realtors.  Early support also came from Phil and Mary Amelia Howell, Governor Bill Richardson, Chris Svetnika, Nicole Rassmuson and Timothy French.

In its first two school years, D4S funded 150 programs in 21 public schools. Since then, it has funded nearly 1,000 classrooms. In 2013, Dollars4Schools became an initiative of the Santa Fe Community Foundation. As Director of Dollars4Schools since early 2014, Ona Johnson has been outstanding in championing Dollars4Schools – both heightening awareness of the program and working closely with supporters and friends of the program to elevate fundraising efforts and community connection. A significant program highlight would have to be ShowHouse Santa Fe, an ambitious and successful multi-year fundraising effort, conceived and implemented by David Naylor, Jennifer Ashton, and Santa Fe’s design community, in which all proceeds were graciously given to Dollars4Schools.

Pat and Michael are most grateful to all who have understood that it takes locals to take care of locals.

Dec 7, 2023
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