Nine grand, and four worthy charities, but only one can win. A scenario more common on the Game Show Network played out nonetheless at the beginning of the school year between administrators and student council over what to do with the profits from Winterfest this year.
Eventually, the student council voted to send the money to a local organization, Gaining Ground, which won among other organizations such as Open Table, WIRED, and Sunrise Movement. With faculty members’ assistance, Council noticed CA already had adequate connections with Open Table, whereas council members were not sure where donations to Sunrise Movement would be used for.
Winterfest is an annual winter event whose proceeds previously went toward financial aid at Concord Academy. This year, the school decided to change the central principle of this event from benefitting our community to helping a broader community outside. The most significant modification is that the money raised from Winterfest will no longer go to financial aid but a local non-profit organization instead. Although the school makes about $9,000 from Winterfest each year, which seems like a lot of money, it is virtually insufficient to cover one financial aid student for even one semester. The payoff of donating money to a local organization is faster and more effective than putting the money into the financial aid program since the organization could invest in larger projects, according to the student council. Another reason for this adjustment was that the money raised from Winterfest in previous years had ended up circulating in an abnormal cycle. The money financial aid students received went into their bookstore accounts, so they had used their bookstore money to pay for Winterfest tickets, which the money ultimately just returned to themselves. Hence, this policy became potentially exclusive to students with financial aid. The change has left some in the student body wondering if the money went to the right place. Considering Gaining Ground’s relatively new status in the non-profit game, giving the money to a charity with a tried and true track record would seem the safer play, but safety is not what student leaders are striving for this time.
Gaining Ground will use the money raised from Winterfest to grow vegetables and fruit with the help of several thousand community volunteers and donates all of this fresh food to area meal programs and food pantries. When asked about the reason for giving money to this organization, Vedika Sharma ’20, Head of School, replied by saying, “We decided on Gaining Ground because we wanted a local organization that supported our new mission.” The approach of Gaining Ground matches the aspect of sustainability of the CA’s new mission, in which most of their products are distributed within 20 miles of our farm and within 24 hours of harvest. To accomplish justice, their produce is used to distribute free meals and free food to people in need. In addition, as Gaining Ground has not had as many collaborations as other local organizations in the past, the school’s decision to put more emphasis on a broader community instead of just Concord Academy not only brings in more distinctive and diverse elements from this new agency but also allows students to expand their understanding of the world by erecting more relations with the local community. Since Winterfest is also making this organization visible to students, starting to build connections with Gaining Ground provides CA students with a new option of community service opportunities in the future, such as fundraisers and volunteering programs on weekends.