The Red Rhino Fund Board is often overlooked at Taft and not many students truly know the intentions, accomplishments and logistics of the board. Hopefully I can provide some helpful information regarding our work. To start off, the mission statement of the board is: “This Fund’s purpose is to: (a) create positive change in the Greater Waterbury community for children, especially those who are underprivileged, through the promotion and nominal financial support of education, literacy, and the arts; and (b) that student trustees gain the necessary knowledge, understanding and skills to continue philanthropic, not-for-profit, work later in life.” Established in 2007, the Board has introduced its members to the ins and outs of a trustee administration which includes endowment stewardship, complex budget duties, financial reporting, fundraising, marketing strategies, governance, and proper meeting etiquette (eg. recording minutes, proposals).
As the fund possesses a substantial endowment, the fund generates its own income as the principal amount grows year after year. The board has to observe the endowment each year and analyze the fair market value in order to manage the fund and create the annual budget to further strategize fundraising opportunities and potential grants. Subsequent to evaluating the endowment value at the start of every fiscal year, the trustees, in particular the Treasurer, has to extract a certain amount from the endowment for the spending plan income and eventually allot specific amounts of money to specific areas to complete the annual budget based upon predicted income and expenses. It is necessary that the proposed budget encompasses a strict, conservative prediction of income and expenses and distribution. The budget includes marketing necessities, the actual grants given, investments in potential fundraising opportunities or special events, supplies for the board, and truly whatever is requisite for the board within reason.
In addition to endowment stewardship and budget allocations, the board necessitates well organized and thought out fundraising opportunities for an additional source of income to the spending plan income from the endowment. Each year, the board organizes the popular Spring Fling dance up at Watertown Country Club. Events akin to these are specifically organized by our Special Events committee as the whole board oversees the process and approves each decision. Another source of income is miscellaneous income from parents, teachers, or other donations. Predicting the amount of income each year is paramount to constructing the marketing and grant strategies as a board because if our budget is not sufficient, the ability to complete our mission and aid education in the Greater Waterbury area will not be accomplished.
In terms of grant allocation, the board reaches out to local agencies that specialize in childhood education as an offer to apply for a grant. After the board receives a sizeable amount of applications that illustrate the funding requirements and charitable goals of each organization, each trustee analyzes each one and the board unites to decide the most deserving applications through a series of meetings and opinion exchanges. Before the decision is made, the trustees go on site visits to immerse themselves in the potential grantee’s program and sometimes even volunteer there to develop personal relationships with the organizations for future involvement with these local agencies. The grants are given at the end of each school year to the recipients.
The board meetings have a specific etiquette different than any other Taft charitable board due to the fact that the board follows true and unwavering not-for-profit board meeting protocol. Regarding the protocol, one strictly enforced aspect of the meetings is the minutes in which the Red Rhino Board Secretary takes comprehensive notes on each meeting which the board then has to review after each congregation and approve at the next. The meetings are often in order to keep everyone up to date with the progress of the varying specific tasks at the specific time during the year. The board consists of various sub-committees, as well as a President, Secretary, Treasurer and faculty advisors. Mrs. O’Shea, Mrs. Frew, and Mr. Parvis all contribute great advice and supervision throughout the year, although is is predominantly student-run. Mr. Parvis expresses very accurate sentiments regarding the board and its accomplishments: “It is very gratifying to work with dedicated students as they eagerly learn about the many facets of not-for-profit trusteeship, as well as the great importance of philanthropy. It is equally splendid to observe our board of trustee students as a thoughtful, caring, leadership group as they deliberate the awarding of nominal grant funds to help others less fortunate in the greater Waterbury community exemplifying our motto.”
Red Rhino Fund Board exhibits and accomplishes the Taft School motto: “Non Ut Sibi Ministretur, Sed Ut Ministret” (Not to be served, but to serve). The trustees emphasize philanthropy and acknowledgement of the age old saying that the privileged have the responsibility to aid the underprivileged: “noblesse oblige.” As a trustee, these Taft students learn the fundamentals of being on a legitimate not-for-profit organization to eventually promote positive contribution and charitable giving following Taft. The board is made up of nine dedicated trustees for the 2016-2016 year who are willing to answer any questions: Caroline Moore (President), Hanna Murphy (Secretary), Eugenie Greeff (Treasurer), Nick Morgoshia, John Nugent, Emma Bellet, Raveeno Douglas, Eliza King Freedman, and Quincy Morgan.