With the cutbacks in school funding, many school districts are creating education foundations to supplement programs in the schools.
Local education foundations (LEF) are 503(c)(3) groups formed in local school districts. They usually provide funding for auxiliary educational activities or after school activities, like Lego Leagues, music programs, or special field trips. Unlike PTA groups, they tend to focus on gathering large scale donations from local businesses or corporations.
There are wide variations in how much these groups can collect based on the wealth of the community. In a report in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Rob Reich points to two communities and their foundations. In wealthy Woodside, CA, which has a median household income of $171,000, the foundation collected $10 million between 1998 and 2003. A nearby town with an average income of $45,000 does not have a foundation, but it could use one to provide basic necessities for the school like textbooks and classroom supplies.
Reich also writes that individuals and business who donate to these foundations receive tax breaks. In other words, government is subsidizing foundations that channel money to wealthy school districts. The poor school districts that are unable to create these foundations receive nothing. Ultimately, charitable donations are not going to areas where it is needed most.