Ryan Banks Academy is an independent and coeducational college-preparatory, residential, tuition-free middle and high school that will prepare motivated students from Chicago neighborhoods to graduate from college, enter into meaningful careers, and be the catalyst to bring positive change into their communities.
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Why Fundraising Really Matters

By Trevor Sprague, Ryan Banks Academy Director of Education

Ryan Banks Academy has been going through some amazing and inspiring times lately.  Our corps of volunteers has grown and solidified into a truly capable and motivated agent for positive change. Valerie (through some truly inhuman efforts!) has expanded our Board membership and, almost single-handedly, the exposure RBA is receiving in media and various communities. These are all really, really important steps towards our goals. 

But, as I reflect on all of the success we’ve been experiencing in recent weeks, there’s one experience that actually gets me thinking more deeply about the value of our project, and where we need to go in the coming months.

RBA has been accepted into the Good City Accelerator program, which provides a huge amount of support and direction for organizations like ours. As a part of this, our first challenge was to raise $5,000 by December 4th (notice the date this was posted, and that I said was!). RBA’s volunteers came through in a big way, as we’ve already reached this goal, about a month in advance;  our next benchmark is to raise $20,000.  Even more than our volunteers, however, the success of this initial fundraising effort reveals something deeper about the nature of work and our place in American education.

Donations for this cause came in from every possible quarter. Ten dollar donations from friends, former clients, classmates not heard from in ten years, my real estate agent, a former Cub Scout leader…. You name them, and they’ve been introduced to our project during this recent effort. And once people get introduced, they can’t help but talk about Ryan Banks, because they see how important and pressing the need for access to education like this truly is.  

And it’s this effect, I want to argue, that is the real value of fundraising. Beyond simply the uses to which those funds can be put, fundraising spreads the message. It changes conversations and opens new networks to the issues we are tackling. Regardless of the amount we have raised, or will raise in the future, we’ve already started to see the benefits from what happens when people get involved, even in the smallest way—movement. Movement towards goals that everyone likely shares, but maybe hasn’t had to or been able to put into words before: safe spaces for children to learn and grow; access to educational experiences that expand students’ sense of their place in the world; stability in the school that promotes kids’ wellbeing and socialization.  

These are the things that Ryan Banks Academy is all about, and now more than ever, we are out there for all to see.

If you are interested in making a donation to Ryan Banks Academy, even $10 would go a long way to help us meet our goal! Head to our Donate page here where you can easily make a donation via credit card, PayPal, or check.