raising money to obtain 501c3 nonprofit status.A local grassroots organization that has helped keep music programming alive in the face of severe budget cuts in Cranston elementary and middle schools in recent years in is
BASICS (Benefitting All Students in Cranston Schools), began in 2009 and has relied on getting the word out about programming available to children through flyers handed out to children to take home, also known as the "backpack express."
But a new policy in Cranston limits who can get a flyer sent home with schoolchildren to organizations with nonprofit status.
"It's something we always wanted to do anyway," said Kerri Kelleher, president of BASICS.
Kelleher said the group needs to file by the end of the month to be in compliance with school district policy. Time is running out to send flyers for programs starting in January.
The program started with just band and strings but in the last two years has added a glee club and acoustic guitar program. The program itself is financially self sufficient, but raising the roughly $2,500 needed to file everything for nonprofit status has been a challenge, Kelleher said.
Meanwhile the BASICS Facebook page has become an essential hub for parents of children in Cranston. Along with information about the music programs, there is frequent discussion about school related issues between parents and occasionally, a school official or elected official.
With 860 members in the Facebook group, Kelleher said if everyone donated $5 they'd be at the goal in a day.
And nonprofit status would open the organization up to grant opportunities to reduce the price of admission for parents desperately seeking a replacement for the once-robust early music education program in Cranston.
Kelleher said BASICS would ultimately like to expand into theater and art programs for children to get exposure to mediums and "things you can't necessarily do in a classroom" anymore, Kelleher said.
"All kinds of things have been cut from education," she said. "If we can get it, we can do more and charge less and get more kids involved."
So why didn't BASICS start out as a nonprofit? It started as a Facebook group of frustrated parents and teachers reeling from severe budget cuts. It was a genuine grassroots campaign to bridge a gap between the lean budget years to come and the hope of future financial stability for Cranston schools.
"We intended to be a bridge but ultimately, with standards changing and Common Core, it's turning out to be something else," Kelleher said.
Click here to visit the BASICS fundraising page.