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[school-discuss] Re: school fund-raising issues question

on Thu, Mar 24, 2005 at 04:32:30PM -0800, tom poe (tompoe@xxxxxxxxxxx) wrote:
> Hi:  I'm a strong advocate of Open Source in schools, along with a lot
> of other idiosyncrasies, I suppose.  I wonder if the topic of school
> fund-raising and Free or Open Source Software [FOSS] (I haven't searched
> the archives) has, or is, of interest to list members?

It is.  It's something I've been kicking around for months, generally
along the lines of:

  - What sort of budgeting issues have people dealt with.

  - What external sources of financing are available.  Microsoft's own
    involvment is well known, though closer experience suggests the
    impacts on a given campus or district are less than you might

I have to admit that the "bakesale" angle isn't one I'd considered,
seems promising.
> A low-end PC based computer, loaded with state-of-the-art audio and
> video software enables users to create high-quality CDs, DVDs, tv
> shows, radio shows, Public Service Announcements, etc.  If a classroom
> of kids were to create a CD, and sell 100 of them at USD$10/CD, the
> class would raise USD$1,000.  Of that, no money would have needed to
> be spent for the computer, if the computer were donated.  

Note that for some tasks, horsepower and size matter.  For video work,
you're going to want both fast and significant storage (a few GiB for
each 20 minutes of video IIRC -- this multiplies rapidly with lots of
kids, projects, and/or editing), a fast CPU, and lots of RAM.  Other
projects (sound, graphics) are less intensive.  But there might be some
outlay (or aquisition) issues.

> No money would have needed to be spent for software, as it is freely
> available through projects like CCRMA or AGNULA.  The only costs would
> be for the CDs and cases and the paper for the covers, inserts, etc.
> In other words, a world-class fund-raising campaign could be carried
> out for pennies, with the rest being "profit" for the school.

Another angle would be to sell software -- Knoppix (or other) disks,
GNUWin, or similar.  Media and consumable costs are low as you note.  I
hadn't thought of locally generated content.  Could be a neat tie-in to
other creative activities (drama, music, voice, industrial arts),
provisos for copyright and other IP issues.

The question to me is how interested schools are in engaging in retail
operations.  OTOH, there's a long tradition of various fundraising
efforts.  Might pay off big.

There are also "local access" TV/radio stations in most areas, on cable
access, which might be another tie-in.

It's *really* key to emphasize that OSI / FSF / DFSG guidelines are such
that selling Free Software (or charging for its distribution) _is_
explicitly allowed.  And that most licenses explicitly disclaim
liability and warranty, addressing the risk side.  Really cool idea,

> There are literally tens of thousands of volunteers around the world
> to step in to provide both technical and training support.  Thus, it
> seems, this is one of those too good to be true thingys for school
> administrators to consider.  The only unique aspect of this approach,
> is that we're interested in putting Free or Open Source Software to
> use in the schools for a specific purpose, unrelated directly to
> education in the classroom.  

Could be tied to specific programs.  E.g.:  a portion of proceeds to the
computer program, the participating arts program, and general
administrative overhead.  I don't know too many schools turning away
money these days in the US.

> However, if you look close, you'll find that the projects would
> provide a good foundation for presenting the features of FOSS in a
> receptive audience, the school administrators, who just might find it
> easier to expand the use of the computers to enable kids to use them
> for educational learning programs in the classroom.  Does that make
> sense?  I think marketing types would call that a "hook".  :)

I'm liking.

> My question is, is this something the list members have experience
> with?  If so, I'd sure like to learn more from you folks.

I've had some experience through the Boys & Girls Clubs (US).  One neat
thing done there is that there are annual contests in several areas.
Not just computer-related, though this is growing.  Included are:  art,
including fine art, construction / 3d / sculpture, photography (low
manipulation), and "digital art" (highly manipulated) music; online
content (web; etc.); film/video; and writing.  Games might be another
category, though that's probably advanced.

The nice thing about the competitions is that it focusses activity and
interest throughout the year.  The downside is that the contest rules
are somewhat arbitrary, and there's a lot of frantic scrambling to get
_something_ in.  And in the case of the B&GC, Microsoft's paw is
eminantly evident.

> There's an interesting variation on the theme above, with a CD called,
> Studio to Go! (I think that's the name).  I understand it costs about
> USD$50.  The nice thing about it, is, it includes an interactive
> tutorial to Rosegarden4, which, alone, is invaluable, in my opinion.

NB:  Rosegarden is a music program.  Not sure if Audacity factors into
your concept, but I've worked with it, with kids, to good effect:

    (OK, so that was mine)


Karsten M. Self <kmself@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    So what does the meat have in mind?
    - Terry Bisson, Meat Beings

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