Montlake PTA commits 10% of all fundraising dollars to our Equity Fund

At Montlake Elementary, we are privileged to fundraise and support our school staff, students, and specialists with additional funds to help programs thrive. We recognize this inequity, and are fortunate have a community who want to actively participate to close this gap. Our equity fund is a fundraising tool to give parents an opportunity to direct their giving and be involved in our Community outreach and Lowell Elementary partnership.  

Why do some PTAs pay for staff? The short answer is because public schools have been historically underfunded. However, all schools could use additional staff but not all schools have PTAs that can afford to pay for staff positions. It is important to know that change is needed at the district and state level so that schools can meet the needs of their students. Advocacy for these reforms is the real solution, but it takes time.


A bit more about our history with fund sharing...


In 2018, the Montlake PTA committed to adding an Equity Fund donation option during fundraising efforts. Learn more about the original commitment here.

In 2019/2020, the Montlake PTA Board added additional structure and commitment around fund sharing to better support our neighbors and provide stability in our giving program. The Equity Fund donation was expanded and officially added as a PTA budget expense, with a minimum of 10% of all PTA fundraising revenue directly given to community fund sharing.


By putting this % of fund sharing into the PTA budget, we are committed to the amount regardless of what the equity fund raises.  

Our intention was that if the equity fundraising ends up raising MORE than was budgeted, then the larger amount would be given out to the community.


The 10% is broken out to serve Montlake kids in need, emergency Montlake family funding, and our partnership with Lowell Elementary.  The intent is to disperse funds across the community and near the end of the year, any unused Montlake needs funds are given to Lowell or other district fund-sharing alliances.

To ensure these funds were allocated to communities in need and not just Montlake-specific needs, we established a partnership with Lowell Elementary, a Title 1 school, as the majority recipient of our equity funds.  Although Lowell is a title 1 school and receives additional sources of funding from the government, it is often restricted and not enough to cover the real need felt by students and staff. Our fund sharing provides stability and the ability for Lowell to plan on a fairly consistent amount each year.  


Lowell serves children from our own neighborhood and all over the city.  We believe these are OUR CHILDREN, who will be joining Montlake and surrounding schools at Meany for middle school.  


A bit more information about our sister school, Lowell Elementary: 


2023-24 Demographic
393 students (projected over 400 next year)
73% students of color furthest from educational justice
23% African American males
35% multilingual served (may be more than counted)
20% special education
25% homeless (spikes higher during certain times of the year like the holidays)

In addition to general education classrooms, Lowell is home to additional programs including special education services like medically fragile and distinct classrooms, HeadStart, and developmental preschool programs.  Lowell also has a family resource center and an onsite community health center.


When we partnered with Lowell, the Montlake PTA learned there was no working Lowell PTA and all existing PTA funds had been depleted to help families.

Thanks to our parent volunteers, the Board started working with the principal and vice principal to supply and support the spending of these funds.  


A roadblock to spending the funds was quickly realized, as the Lowell staff had no bandwidth for research and order management of items needed. The Montlake Board has spent the past few years removing this roadblock. Our Community Outreach PTA volunteer - Jennie Tyrzna - has helped the Lowell staff by researching items, designing school shirts, planning teacher appreciation, ordering food for community events, and supplying gift and food card needs. 

The good news is that the Lowell PTA is rebuilding and now have a treasurer and president (among others) to provide this support to the school going forward!


Here are some of the top needs and items that have been purchased with our fund sharing: 



Emergency snacks for kids (breakfast and lunch are provided for kids but they often need after-school snacks or snacks during the day.  For some of these kids what they eat at school is it for the day.

Family events

Any school events that they are hoping to have parents attend need to supply food/dinner as an incentive to bring the community together.

Grocery gift cards 

The school social workers need gift cards to help fill in gaps for families throughout the year, during breaks and during the summer.


We created a new Lowell T-shirt a couple years ago and they gave one to staff and students both for school moral, but also an extra clothing item is useful for their population.  Each new school year they restock their supply for incoming staff/students. They receive new donations from clothing and shoe companies as well as support from other sources to keep new emergency clothing on hand but occasionally have to replenish on their own. It should be noted that they usually receive backpack donations but often have to supplement to meet needs.


They use Uber to transport parents and students in emergency situations.  

Staff Appreciation for 120 staff

Their parent population for the most part is unable to provide volunteer or financial support, so this is coordinated through the school.  We use the money for a lunar new year lunch (long standing school tradition), teacher appreciation week, and holiday gifts (no giant gift cards from parent donations at this school)

Health and Safety


The district does not provide enough/additional funding for the full amount needed to cover this need.  In other schools that house these special programs the parents often step in and provide supplies.

School and student supplies

While some things can be ordered from the district many can't and also the timeline can be far too slow.  We have ordered student school supplies, white boards, basic classroom supplies, teacher specific supplies, art supplies, projects supplies, special education specific supplies and more.