Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the Hillsborough Schools Foundation?

The Hillsborough Schools Foundation (HSF) is a non-profit organization committed to raising funds to support quality education at the four public schools on the Hillsborough City School District (HCSD). HSF is supported by parents, community members, and businesses. Since 1980, HSF has allocated over $56 million dollars to the District to help close the gap between shrinking government funding and the high-quality education that we in Hillsborough have come to expect for our children.

Who runs HSF?

HSF is governed and led by a 17 to 20 member Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is comprised of current parents in the HCSD and consists of the following: President, President-Elect, Annual Giving, Events, Communications, Nominating, Corporate Outreach, Strategic Planning, Audit and Endowment, and the Treasurer, Secretary, Past HSF President and APG President. In addition, a member of the Board of Trustees, the Superintendent and the HSF Executive Director are non-voting members. The Board of Directors terms are for one year, commencing on July 1 and concluding on June 30.

What does HSF support?

For the 2018-19 school year, HSF will contribute $3.3 million to the Hillsborough City School District. These funds are essential to augment State funding and deliver the educational excellence we expect. Without your support to HSF, our children would NOT have:

  • Support of programs throughout the school curriculum, grades K-8
  • Class Size Reduction, grades K-8
  • Reading Specialists
  • Math & Science Enrichment Teachers
  • Technology Specialists and up-to-date technology
  • Music Specialists
  • Physical Education Specialists
  • Art Specialist
  • Counseling Services, grades K-8
  • Professional Development
  • Librarians
  • SMART technology in every classroom
  • HTV Program at Crocker

Does HSF  tell the District how to spend...

...its annual contribution?

No, HSF does not dictate where the funds are spent in the Hillsborough School District. The Hillsborough School Board decides how the funds are spent on an annual basis. HSF does a straight contribution to the School Board as an unrestricted grant.

Why can't HSF  be more transparent?

I would like more information about how HSF is spending its money and how the district is allocating funds donated through HSF.

It is our goal to be completely transparent, so that we can improve our efficiency and effectiveness. Our annual report is an excellent source for financial data, including HSF Revenues and HSF Allocations within the School District. HSF donates a block grant distributed in three annual installments to the school district. The Hillsborough City School Board of Trustees determines how to allocate the funds through their "yearly directions" which are available on the District website and based on the Needs Assessment completed by parents every five years. Additionally, we calculate our overhead to be 10-12%. Please contact the office if you have additional questions.

What is the difference between HSF  and APG?

Both organizations provide important yet distinct support for our schools. The Hillsborough Schools Foundation (HSF) is the non-profit fundraising organization that raises money for the Hillsborough City School District through the Annual Giving Campaign and HSF Events. Each year, the financial support from HSF supplements state funding and enables the district to provide additional programs and teachers. Parent and community donors, as well as volunteers contribute to provide a high level of education in Hillsborough.

The Associated Parent Group (APG) is representative of the parent groups from all four schools and serves to facilitate communication, encourages participation among parents, teachers, and administrators, and establishes common guidelines for each school site. APG and the School Parent Groups are funded through parent group dues and supported by parent volunteers from each school. APG elects the Community Care Award and the Citizen of the Year recipients and hosts their reception.

I am new to the District...

...and I want to do my part for HSF, how can I help?

Please join the ranks of supporters of HSF whose contributions have made and continue to make a significant impact on our public schools. First, by making a donation to the Annual Giving Campaign. If you would like your gift to provide immediate impact, contribute to our Annual Fund. You can also make a lifetime gift to the Endowment Fund and help us provide ongoing support to the schools for years to come. Second, you can help by attending and volunteering for our HSF Events. There are three fantastic events held throughout the year. These events raise additional funds and build community spirit.


Why do I have to donate private money?

HCSD is a public district. I feel like I'm paying for a private school.

The good news is that our district is able to provide the same education as many private schools and sometimes even more (for example, class sizes are often higher at private schools because they are not under state mandate). In Hillsborough, we ask for an Additional Cost to Educate tax-deductible donation ($2,500 per student). Most private schools require tuition, which is not tax deductible ($12-25K per student per year) as well as an annual appeal or gap donation ($1-3500).

Why do we need to fund public schools in Hillsborough?

Public school finance in the State of California has changed dramatically over the last quarter century. Since California's public schools receive the majority of their funding on a per student basis from the state government, the State deficit has resulted in dramatically reduced allocations to education. California ranks 41st in the nation on education spending per student. As a result, school districts throughout our State have been forced to make major cuts to local budgets. Unprecedented community support has made it possible for our district to preserve outstanding academic programs and student support services long lost in other communities.

As citizens of Hillsborough, we are committed to educating our students to become active citizens and leaders of tomorrow. This takes the efforts of both our citizens and our schools, working together to provide our children a first rate educational experience. For over 38 years, HSF has worked with generations of Hillsborough families to do just this, providing millions of dollars in support of educational excellence.

Funding Sources

Why should I donate to HSF...

...when there are other charities that need the money more?

There are many charities that need our money, and it is important to consider all priorities when determining charitable donations. The State of California is not currently supporting education at the per student capita level that we require for an excellent education. The foundation was started over 30 years ago by parents who wanted to provide funding to maintain excellence in our schools, especially due to inadequate state funding. Parents in Hillsborough have made the schools a priority for more than 35 years!


HSF asks families to give at the ACE level for each child to cover the gap between revenues from the state and local sources (including property taxes) and what the school district actually spends to provide a high quality education for our students. The last time HSF raised the suggested donation amount was eight years ago, but district costs have continued to rise during that time. More than 80% of our district budget goes toward salaries and benefits, which increase every year to help us recruit and retain our excellent teachers and staff. So we are increasing ACE this year to $2,500 per child so that we can help provide the financial support the district needs to continue to deliver outstanding educational opportunities for our children.

Why didn't I immediately receive a donor acknowledgment letter suitable for IRS tax purposes?

You should always receive a donor acknowledgment letter right after your donation is received. Please let us know if you are missing anything.

What if I can't donate at the ACE Level (i.e., ADDITIONAL Cost to Educate)?

An Annual Giving Campaign goal is to have 100% family participation, and every dollar makes a difference. We appreciate your generosity during these challenging economic times with any amount you can give.


Can I donate stock or bonds?

Yes, HSF will gladly accept the donation of stock or bonds. Please refer to the Annual Giving page for instructions.

Why should I donate money to HSF  when...

I am very displeased with my teacher/school/district/child's experience?

If you are upset with any aspect of your child's education, please communicate your concerns to your teacher, principal and/or superintendent. They are all very eager to make sure your child is getting the best education possible, and is enjoying their school experience. All of our teachers and administrators will work closely with you to solve your issues.

Withholding a donation to HSF will not do anything to change your child's experience, except increase the risk that class sizes will go up, specialists will be laid off, and teachers will not receive professional development — all of which will greatly degrade the level of education your child is receiving. Additionally, withholding a donation doesn't just negatively affect your child, but the other students as well.

Why does it cost so much...

to run and maintain a school? Can't great education take place in a barn?

Our schools could do very well with much less money. Most of the expense of running a school goes to paying exceptionally well trained teachers. More than 50% of the HCSD budget goes towards paying our teachers, some of the highest paid teachers in the state. HSF funding also helps pay for programs and specialists that include, PE, Music, Library, World Language, Math/Science and Reading. Public schools have lost many of these programs under the current state funding crisis.


What is Scholars' Circle?

Inaugurated in 1998, Scholars’ Circle families contribute $10,000 and above, providing almost 50% of the funds raised by HSF. In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 150 school and community families donated at the Scholars’ Circle level. In recognition of their generous support, Scholars' Circle donors are invited to an annual event featuring a distinguished guest speaker. In 2017-18, we were honored to hear from Dr. David Eagleman.


What is the Endowment Fund?

The Fred Schwartz Endowment Fund was established in 1980 to ensure long-term stability for the Hillsborough City School District. Named for the first Crocker School principal, Fred Schwartz, the endowment fund continues to flourish through the generous support of our many donors, who strongly believe that only an endowment can safeguard the future of our Hillsborough schools. All donors to HSF have the opportunity to designate all or part of their donation to the endowment fund.

How are funds allocated to build the endowment each year?

What are your plans for the endowment? Shouldn't the endowment be a revenue stream for HSF?

There are several ways that funds are allocated to the endowment. First off, it was with great foresight that several early HSF boards designated funds to the endowment for long-term investment. Secondly, donors may request that their donation, or a portion of it, be directly allocated to the endowment. Each year, the HSF Board transfers a percentage of the average net asset value as defined by the HSF Endowment Transfer Policy, from the endowment to the block grant HSF gives to the Hillsborough City School District. Part of our strategic plan calls for growing the endowment to a level where it generates a certain amount of income for HSF. As part of HSF's ongoing strategic planning process, we reassess our plans for the endowment every 3 - 5 years. Stay tuned!


Why do the HSF  Event tickets cost so much?

Every year we evaluate the cost of our events and analyze the most cost efficient way of hosting events while maximizing our revenue. We determine how much we need to make in order for the event to be worth hosting. Last year we determined that we needed to make some per person profit and wanted to be able to host a nice dinner. We keep costs down whenever possible and donations from parents and the community help as well. Please come by the office for more information and a greater cost breakdown.