It has been said that it is better to give than to receive.
While that may be true in most instances, for nonprofits the saying might be that one must first receive, in order to give.
This holds true for the Parent Institute of Quality Education, which is dependent on grants from corporations and foundations, according to Vahac Mardirosian, who founded the organization in 1987.
The institute is a local organization that teaches low-income, ethnically diverse parents of elementary and middle school children how to become involved in their children’s education.
Last year, about 40,000 parents , many of them immigrants , participated in the nine-week course, including 6,000 in San Diego County. An instructor meets with about 25 parents once a week to help them understand how the school system works, Mardirosian said.
Although the program reaches mostly Latino parents, the institute teaches the course in a dozen languages, he added.
– Parents Learn
How To Help
“Many parents assume that they are totally incapable of being any help,” Mardirosian said.
These feelings can cause parents to withdraw at a high cost of higher dropout rates, he said.
The institute believes that students will do better in school if parents take an active role in their education. Mardirosian cited a UCSD study that demonstrated that the children of involved parents have better test scores on standardized tests.
Because the idea has caught on, the program has been expanded throughout the state. Currently, schools that participate in the program pay for half of the costs. It costs about $100 per parent, so the institute is responsible for coming up with $50 for each parent that participates, he said.
“We depend almost totally on foundations and corporations,” he said.
– Grant Issued
By Genesis Fund
In December, the institute received a grant of an undisclosed amount from the Genesis Charitable Fund, which is managed by The San Diego Foundation.
The San Diego Foundation manages about 600 charitable funds set up by individuals and a few companies, according to Adrienne Vargas, associate director of the foundation. It takes a minimum of $10,000 to open a fund and the organization manages assets of almost $300 million.
The institution is also the largest grant-maker in San Diego, Vargas said.
Although only seven or eight funds were set up by businesses, Vargas said the foundation has seen some success in corporate giving.
One of those standouts is San Diego-based Genesis Communications International, Inc. The company, which provides local and long-distance service, created the Genesis Charitable Fund in 1998.
Vargas attributes the fund’s success to the strong commitment shown by the company’s founders.
– Committed To
That commitment is evident in Derek Gietzen, president and CEO of Genesis. Gietzen said the fund is just one of the things that the founders had in mind when the company was formed in 1995.
The founders wanted the company to be the best place their employees had ever worked and to contribute to the outside community, he said.
Although Gietzen said it “took a little longer than we hoped,” the company launched the fund along with an employer/employee matching program for charitable donations and various volunteer activities and projects.
The amount of money that goes into the fund is based on the company’s revenues, he said. A portion of their customer’s monthly fees also goes towards the fund.
Even though all the money comes from Genesis, a group effort determines where the funds will go, he said. An employee committee that includes entry-level staff and senior executives selects charities. Customers are also surveyed about what organizations they would like the company to support.
Several charities have benefited from the fund, although the Parent Institute has received the largest to date, he said, noting the company has decided not to disclose the size of their donations.
Gietzen said the company likes to focus its contributions on organizations that support the Hispanic community and “help people help themselves.”
The institute fell in line with those ideas.
“The Parent Institute for Quality Education is making a tremendous impact in the local community by helping parents who are taking an active role in ensuring quality education for their children,” Gietzen said.