Anonymous donor gives additional $450,000 for arts program in Portland schools

An anonymous donor is giving $450,000 to provide three more years of arts funding to the Portland School District, bringing his total contributions to more than $1 million in seven years.

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An anonymous donor paid for every Portland student to attend the symphony. Here’s what the children said

The headline above is a bit misleading. The anonymous donor actually agreed to pay for every Portland Public Schools student to attend the Portland Museum of Art and performances by Portland Stage and Portland Ovations, in addition to the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

But the headline is pretty long as it is, so we just used the symphony as the ice breaker.

In any event, this anonymous donor put up $100,000 toward this cause in 2012, $150,000 in 2013 and $200,000 each year since, ramping up from a fund that would cover half of all students in Year One to now 100 percent today.

This is in a city where nearly half or more of the student populations of 10 public schools qualify for free or reduced price lunches — a metric commonly used to track childhood poverty levels. Admission costs are legitimate barriers to entry for many Portland students.

This anonymously funded access has been called Culture Club-Portland and is administered through the nonprofit Foundation for Portland Public Schools.

Read the full article on Bangor Daily News

Portland schools working to keep innovative ‘Culture Club’ arts program

Local school and arts organization leaders are in fundraising mode to save a unique 4-year old program that aims to send every Portland public school student to multiple cultural events in the city each year.

Culture Club-Portland is intended to allow each of the city’s roughly 7,000 students to attend programs at four participating arts institutions every year: The Portland Museum of Art, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Portland Ovations and the Portland Stage Company.

So far, the program has been funded by a total of $650,000 from an anonymous donor who lives in the city, but that funding runs out at the end of this school year, according to Kate Snyder, a former school board member who is now executive director of the Foundation for Portland Public Schools, which coordinates the “Culture Club Portland” program.

“It is critical that we secure funds for 2016-17 by late summer, and develop a long-term plan for sustainability,” Snyder said. The four arts organizations also subsidize the program, and the schools provide in-kind donations of time and resources, such as transportation to the events.

Read the full article on Portland Press Herald

How private funding can change the way we think about public education

For decades — and still today — public schools in Maine have been funded overwhelmingly through property tax revenues and state educational subsidies.

But those funding sources are under constant pressure from taxpayers and lawmakers seeking to trim budgets and save money.

The draft Portland Public Schools budget for fiscal year 2017, for instance, factored in a $2.7 million cut in state aid — the kind of sharp change not uncommon from year-to-year,

Generally speaking, when schools are faced with the prospect of funding cuts, they circle the wagons around core subjects and classroom essentials. The state uses what it calls the Essential Programs & Services model to determine what each district receives in subsidies, and funds the necessities, but not coming close to funding what even the state would consider a comprehensive education.

Read the full article on Bangor Daily News

February 3rd – Meet & Greet Event

Please join us on February 3rd!


The Board of Directors of the Foundation for Portland Public Schools invite you to a Meet & Greet Event

Wednesday, February 3rd from 5pm-6:30pm
Rines Auditorium – Portland Public Library
5 Monument Square

Your Hosts

Mary Bennett
Mike Bove
Ed Bryan
Jessica Burton
Jeanne Crocker
Erin Macey
Sue Olafsen
Josh Rent
Rob Ruesch
Ira Waltz

Kate Snyder – – 207.838.0789

Superintendent’s Notebook: Creating a community that embraces the arts

I have a “secret” to share: Culture Club Portland, a unique collaboration with our city’s cultural institutions to bring the arts to all Portland Public Schools’ students, is so successful it’s worthy of national replication.

But before that happens, I want to make sure everyone in Portland knows about Culture Club Portland.

The program, generously funded through an anonymous donor, is now in its fourth year of delivering outstanding arts and cultural opportunities to thousands of our students. Surprisingly, however, many of our community members – and even some school staff – don’t know much about it.

That’s why we’re now trying to raise awareness about Culture Club Portland. It’s a collaboration between four arts organizations – the Portland Museum of Art, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Portland Stage and Portland Ovations – and the Portland Public Schools, along with the Portland Education Foundation.

Read The Full Article on The Forecasterfeb15_news

Portland schools move to strengthen student interest in arts

PORTLAND —Several local organizations are making it their mission increase students’ access to art both in and out of the classroom.

Founded in 2012, Culture Club-Portland is a collaboration of four arts organizations with a goal of connecting students to the arts. Together, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the Portland Museum of Art, Portland Ovations and Portland Stage Company work to provide better access for K-12 students to the organizations.

And now, a new ad hoc committee is the latest step in the organization’s efforts to get art into students’ lives.

Funded by $200,000 annually from an anonymous Portland donor, Culture Club – along with the Portland Education Foundation, which serves as the Club’s fiscal agent – has worked to bring arts programming into schools and allow the students to access the organizations free of charge.

Kate Snyder, the executive director of PEF, on Monday said the idea of establishing a Culture Club-Portland Ad Hoc Committee came up last summer as a way to look at the past three years and see where improvements can be made. The Maine Evaluation Collaborative at the University of Southern Maine has written reports on the program in each of its first three years, and recommended establishing the ad hoc committee.

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Portland Education Foundation grants $33,000 to Portland Public School teachers

Foundation for Portland Public Schools (FPPS) has completed its seventh annual Teacher Grant Program cycle. Funds disbursed in 2015 represent a 29% increase over last year.

The FPPS Teacher Grant Program is designed to support a wide range of innovative school and classroom-based efforts to enhance learning experiences, and to recognize and reward the hard work of Portland’s talented and dedicated teachers, who work tirelessly to engage and inspire students. “FPPS Teacher Grants prove that relatively small dollars can make a very big impact in a classroom,” states Portland Public Schools Superintendent Jeanne Crocker.

Funds in support of the 2015 FPPS Teacher Grant Program came from a Lennox Foundation grant, the Ellen S. Edwards Memorial Fund, and FPPS Board Member contributions. The FPPS is developing plans to increase funds to support the Teacher Grants Program in 2016. “We believe that the FPPS Teacher Grants Program makes a real difference for students and teachers in Portland’s public schools, and we look forward to working with the community over the coming months to increase the number of dollars we have to support the great work and innovation that is happening in classrooms and schools across the District,” says Mike Bove, Chair of the PEF Teacher Grants Committee.

Grant applications were received from teachers in every school, representing all grade levels, K-12. 47 grant proposals were awarded totaling $33,000.

Foundation for Portland Public Schools, a private not-for-profit corporation, is committed to raising philanthropic support to enhance educational opportunities for present and future students in Portland’s public schools. The FPPS Teacher Grants Program is a key to PEF’s goals to affect educational enrichment, classroom innovation and community engagement.

If you’d like more information about this topic, or you’d like to schedule an interview with a FPPS Board Member, please call FPPS Executive Director Kate Snyder at 207-838-0789, or email at