The YES Story

What’s the difference between YES, Parent Club, PTO, and PTA? 

The YES Story

After Prop 13 reduced state revenue in the 1970’s and California began to cut funding for the arts in public education, a group of concerned parents started the Ross Valley Community for Schools (RVCS) to provide funding to sites for art, music and theater. That effort, combined with funding at each site, paid for about 18 weekly art and music classes a year and subsidized the theater program that produced a play for third through eighth graders. In revolt1999, parents Lisa Canin and Katie Rice partnered with superintendent Jan Derby to ensure program equity across the schools, and build more focused fundraising and program advocacy to fuel more robust art and music programs and provide greater funding accountability across the district. They and their founding board evolved RVCS into YES, The Ross Valley Schools Foundation. With the help of Superintendent Derby, The Round Table was formed and Parent Club/PTA representatives, site council presidents, school principals and foundation representatives negotiated the Round Table Agreement to assure that every child would receive the same resources while schools would be able to fund their own priorities. The agreement provided for a per-student fundraising cap at each site and stipulated that the balance would go to YES to be distributed equitably through YES programs. In 2001-02, the total raised was $428K. YES now raises almost $1M. When the foundation started, elementary art and music were taught by specialists for part of the year. Now they’re taught by credentialed art and music teachers weekly for the entire year.
Most importantly, Family Giving, YES’s core fundraising effort, raises more money every year and reflects the community’s deep commitment to the programs YES funds. When YES had to stop selling lunches due to a California State Ed Code change, the community stepped up to replace the lost $80K. When the district suffered severe funding cuts from the state in 2008-09, the community provided YES another $80K to take on short-term funding of elementary PE.copy-copy-yes_logo21

YES programs have flourished. Art and Music both provide a comprehensive, developmental curriculum for students K-5, and dynamic, electives at the middle school. YES is the district’s primary source of new library books. Poetry, Assemblies, White Hill Wildcat Activities (lunchtime clubs and after-school sports), and PE Dance are thriving; YES now includes Technology funding to help the district realize its technology plan for kids; and YES Theater still provides third through eighth graders with an authentic theater experience, including KidTech that gives students the opportunity to develop the tech components and run each show.


YES provides funding and advocacy for programs the state won’t fund, but children need for an excellent education that sparks their potential. The YES Board continues to believe that we have one chance with every child to get education right, and YES plays a critical role in supporting that goal for every child at Brookside, Hidden Valley, Manor, Wade Thomas and White Hill schools.