As city and state officials and the teacher's union continue to continue to battle over funding for Philadelphia's schools, Mayor Michael Nutter's challenge to citizens to put up extra cash for school supplies came to fruition.
Nutter made the announcement on Twitter Thursday night that the city had exceeded its goal of a $500,000 school supplies fund.
"Thanks to all the people who gave to the Phila Edu Supplies Fund, we beat our goal with $531k, helping our kids/teachers, thanks so much!"
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Last month, Nutter implored citizens, nonprofits and corporations to donate money to the program, dubbed the Philadelphia Education Supplies Fund, that would buy school supplies for all K-12 schools in the city -- even charter and parochial.
"We all have a role to play in supporting the next generation of Philadelphia's leaders," Nutter said standing with the city's educational leaders.
The city hoped to raise $500,000 by Oct. 15 and to kick start the late funding push, the city dropped $200,000 into the initiative, according to Nutter.
Philanthropist James Maguire also committed $100,000 through his nonprofit, The Maguire Foundation, bringing the total start up funding to $300,000.
It's unclear how the remaining $231,000 was funded.
The total goal, the mayor says, is to raise $2.5 million over the next five years. City government will inject $1 million over that span.
The fund will be administered by the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and money collected through their website.
Money collected through the program would be used to buy supplemental supplies like pens, paper and other classroom items.
"I've heard from so many people who are interested in helping and getting involved in education for children," Nutter said. "Everyone can do something. Today's announcement is an immediate opportunity for our citizens, our nonprofits, businesses and corporations and the philanthropic community to come together in support of education in our city."
Philadelphia public school teachers took a similar approach, on their own, asking strangers to give money through a crowdfunding website.
The cash-strapped public school system allots only $100 per teacher for supplies for the entire year. The money donated through the fund would be in addition to that allotment.
The Education Supplies Fund is modeled after a similar initiative the city launched several summers ago to keep many of the city's public pools open, even as the parks department's operations budget was slashed.
The eighth-largest public school district in the nation, the School District of Philadelphia teaches more than 134,000 students in public-run schools. Another 63,000 students are enrolled in city charter schools.
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan said he support's the mayor's initiative, but said charity, while always accepted, is not the answer.
"We know the public will do all it can to help our schoolchildren, and this fundraising effort will provide a convenient way for citizens to make much-needed contributions," he said in a statement. "But the school district and its teachers should not be in the position of depending solely on charity to buy pencils and paper for schoolchildren."