Thoreau College is committed to making our programs financially transparent, fair, and accessible to all accepted participants. We are also committed to offering high quality programming and to compensating our instructors and staff appropriately for their skills, knowledge, and time. In order to meet and balance these objectives, we have created multi-step interactive process to establish an appropriate and achievable financial contribution for each individual participant. Thoreau College is committed to robust transparency in our budgeting and financial planning and we ask all participants to enter into this process in a similar spirit of transparency, good faith, and commitment to ensuring that the program is able to operate successfully.
The process for establishing an individual financial contribution is as follows:
1) Budget Review: We will invite all participants to review our annual budget so you can begin to better understand the costs involved in running such a program and what your financial contribution will be going toward. It will be important for each participant to gain an understanding of the financial side of Thoreau College, since all participants in Thoreau College, including faculty, staff, and community partners, share responsibility for the financial health of the college. In addition to individual financial contributions, this responsibility includes active participation in both fundraising and cost-reducing activities such as farming, gardening and work-trades to secure food or compensate instructors, labor devoted to cooking, cleaning, and building improvements for the college, staging of events within the community, and planning and execution of crowdfunding, grant writing, and other direct fundraising efforts.
2) Review of Average Cost per Participant: Below is the breakdown of the projected cost of the Growing Season program divided equally by our goal of 12 participants. Note that food and lodging for all students is incorporated into this budget and will be provided by Thoreau College.
Program costs equally divided per person: $11,816.67
While we have divided this cost equally between 12 people as an exercise, we recognize that people come from widely different life circumstances, so that actual contributions will likely need to vary--some may be able to contribute more than the average cost and some less. We consider this to be normal and healthy. Thus we need a process to determine an individual contribution that make sense for each student.
3) Setting Individual Financial Contributions: Once you have been accepted into the Growing Seasons Program, you will be asked to complete a confidential form designed to help you make a proposal for your individual financial contribution to Thoreau College.This proposal will be reviewed by our team, who will then hold a financial pledge meeting with you to come to mutual agreement on your financial contribution and payment plan. We are presently preparing for the likelihood that there will be a gap of some amount between the total projected costs and the total contributions possible by participants. We have thus begun a fundraising effort to try to close this gap. On the one hand, the more that each participant can contribute the better, as this will free up time from fundraising and allow us make wise use of our limited resources. On the other hand, we do not want to discourage or turn away any participant who is an excellent fit for this program for financial reasons. Nor do we want to lay undue stress on our students or their families. It is thus very important to us to try to arrive at individual contributions that are meaningful for the work of Thoreau College and sensible and fair for you.
Also keep in mind that in order to help participants meet their financial commitments, Thoreau College has set aside Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of each week during the program (with the exception of Block 3) for participants to take on paid employment, if necessary. We are also working with allied businesses, farms, and organizations in our local community to identify a variety of job opportunities for participants and will help to support job applications as well.
4) Completing a Financial Contribution Agreement and Payment Plan
Based on the pledge conversation, all participants must complete a financial contribution agreement and payment plan before the start of the program on March 18, 2019. Payments may be made up front before the program, on a monthly basis, or on some other agreed upon schedule. Failure to fulfill the commitments made in the financial contribution agreement may result in early dismissal from the program.