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Maclay Comes Together

Maclay’s Transition to a One-School Fundraising Initiative

Photo by Maclay Better Together

In the 2023-2024 school year, Maclay introduced a new change. Through the establishment of the Better Together program, Maclay transitioned to a one-school fundraising initiative. This means the entirety of Maclay School is focusing their fundraising efforts on a specific issue in our community. This year, and for the next years to come, the issue Malcay will collectively combat is food insecurity. Through the establishment of Better Together, Maclay is coming together as a school to make a difference in the issues surrounding local hunger.

The desire for a one-school fundraising initiative traces back to about eight years ago, when Mr. Milford thought of a way to bring the school together. Since then, Maclay’s administration came up with a way to connect the school in a singular fundraising initiative. The plans came to action at the end of the 2022-2023 school year, when Better Together was presented as a new program at a school assembly. Later on, students had the opportunity to attend meetings and learn more about food insecurity.

To be more specific, Better Together can be identifiable as both a program and a club. Since it is supported by all aspects of Maclay administration and outwardly connects to alumni and families, it is a program. At the same time, students can get involved and be a part of the committee, which makes it like a club. Either way, Better Together is a school-wide initiative that concentrates on having the biggest impact possible on food insecurity. While organizing events to combat food insecurity, another main goal is to educate Maclay’s students and families on the concentrated issue.

This year, Better Together has completed a few projects to achieve their end goal of working together to create one organization that benefits many organizations. There has been one visit to Second Harvest, where students got to truly understand the issues surrounding food insecurity. Then, in the second semester, Better Together held a canned food drive. Despite the difficulty in navigating a completely new program, Better Together successfully launched the initiative with an impactful canned food drive.

“The first semester really was a little bit of like, ‘Well what are we gonna do?, ‘Who are we?’ ‘What is your job?’ And that helped us at least have that second-semester big event.” Upper school Dean of Students and program sponsor Mrs. Bas said. “But I think now moving forward, we focus the first semester on more of the education piece, leading up to a second-semester big event. We failed a little bit in getting that education piece in there and we can definitely work to do that better.”

In its first year, Better Together offered various roles for students to participate. The most important roles are the co-directors. One of them is an internal focus, which focuses on the educational aspect and the logistics of having a program that involves students from pre-K to high school. The other is an external focus, which works with partners outside of Maclay. Other leadership positions include the lower school and middle school chairs, communications chair, event-planning chair, finance chair, community partner chair and social media chair.  All of these student leadership roles play an impactful part that ensures the function of Better Together. But in addition, new roles will be added in the future. There will be an upper-school chair that coordinates the events in the high school.

“This year I had the opportunity to be on the Better Together board as the Communications Head Chair where I took attendance at every meeting, took notes about what was discussed at each meeting as well as communicated with the freshman team of can racers to prepare them for the race,” freshman Layla Hafez said. “For this being a first year organization I was severely impressed with the outcome of our race. With a goal of 1,134 cans, one can per student at Maclay, Better Together ended up raising 2,079 cans. I really enjoyed being a part of this new organization and I am excited for upcoming Marauder Canned food adventure races.” 

As Better Together is still adapting though, next year's application process for a position will look a little bit different. The program plans to imitate the Student Ambassadors Selection program, and the protocols that Dance Marathon used to use when selecting the leaders. The students who previously had a leadership position are the only students eligible to apply for the board, or the top leadership positions. In that application process, Mrs. Bas, the dean of students, and Mrs. Croston, the Academic dean, as well as the two co-directors, will hold interviews. This application process draws from other clubs and programs selective protocols, to ensure the most qualified leaders will have roles.

Students, though, are not the only people on campus who play a huge role in Better Together. In the future, advancement and other adults on campus who have connections outside of Maclay, will have an influence on the program. Students will have the opportunity to shadow or work with adults on campus, to learn about their communication and event coordination skills. For example, the event coordinator will have the opportunity in the future to shadow advancement when they execute the biggest event on campus, the auction.

The origins of a one-school initiative truly come from the influence of Maclay’s administration, not particularly student voices. The administration acknowledged other individual clubs and initiatives and noticed that fundraising was a huge aspect of them. So, to limit fundraising to focus on a one-school initiative, there was a $2,000 fundraising limit placed on individual clubs.

“A tenant of the school is to not just fundraise, like just giving money,” Mrs. Bas said. “It doesn't have a long lasting impact on the person who's giving the money. But if you do work and eventually if there is money connected to that work that you give, that's fine. But the work being done is what's gonna have a longer-lasting impact. So we actually for Better Together didn't fundraise, we asked for a sponsorship to help us pay for the things that we were doing with our big event.”

Instead of having individual clubs that fundraise for outside parties, Maclay emphasizes not just giving money to organizations, but creating a bigger impact by focusing on one issue, instead of multiple isolated ones. While one-school initiatives strengthen the impact the school has on a specific issue, clubs like Dance Marathon, that fundraise for Children's Miracle Network Hospitals through a series of school-wide events, could no longer run on Maclay’s campus because of this fundraising limit.

“I think this shift definitely fits into administration’s narrative for the future of the school,” junior Olivia Collins said. “However there is both good and bad to losing individual initiatives as it can push a group's ideas forward, but disregard the individual ideas within a group. I also believe some children were saddened by the fact that the school essentially decided that the initiatives they were passionate about no longer had a place at Maclay. I think ideally, there could be a way for group and personal initiatives to coexist.”

While change can be difficult, Better Together strives to make this transition effective. In the future, to further transition to a one-school initiative,  Better Together plans on expanding education about food insecurity to classrooms from pre-K to the upper school. Continuing to build a platform on social media will also make this shift towards the entire school more explicit. Upcoming events at the beginning of each school year, such as the Inter Club Council fair, will diversify the initiative to more students.

“I think a lot of people know about Better Together,” junior Aidenn Hafez said. “I think the thing is since it was the first year, obviously it was gonna be the roughest year it's ever been, it's only gonna continue to get better. But even with people concerned with the transition to one-school, it still was successful and it still did what it was supposed to. Regardless, it's still gonna end up helping people that need it.”


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Andy Poll

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