Wilson has almost an embarrassment of riches when it comes to sports offerings, over 25 sports programs and over 45 teams. We have sports programs that are offered to all DCPS high schools (football, basketball, bowling), sports programs that no other DC public school offers (crew, squash) and others that few public schools offer (lacrosse, wrestling, field hockey).
What was the historical funding model for Wilson athletics?
Historically, our teams were supported by four funding sources:
- DCIAA (District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletics Association), which earmarked funds for specific programs but not for “club” sports - see full list of DCIAA-sponsored sports here.
- SAF (Student Activity Fund), specifically monies generated from Wilson facility and field rentals that Wilson received and used to support its athletics, arts and other activities. Until 2018, the SAF was also used to pay coach stipends for the many coaches who did not already receive a DCIAA coach stipend. It also paid for buses for many expenses not covered by DCIAA, including travel, tournament fees and equipment.
- Parent contributions
What has changed?
The historical funding model is gone, at least for now. In 2019, Wilson lost access to the field rental money (it is no longer deposited into the SAF for Wilson use), and the athletics programs lost over $110K alone. The Wilson Beacon published an excellent piece that explains the history of this funding model here, and where the SAF money now goes.
A quick FYI: Wilson Athletics only differentiates team status based on funding. Teams supported in part by DCIAA are called as such (“DCIAA-sponsored”), and teams that are responsible for their own funding (or who previously depended on SAF) are colloquially known as “club teams.” All teams, regardless of funding, have Varsity or JV status and abide by the same athlete eligibility rules.
What is the current funding model?
Wilson athletics currently has four sources of funding:
- DCIAA Funding
DCIAA funds are limited in scope and practice. DCIAA only funds specific teams, not sports. As a result, there are situations, such as the soccer programs, where DCIAA funds the varsity teams, but not the JV teams. You can see the complete list of teams funded by DCIAA here.
DCIAA pays for all inter-league games, including transportation and officials. Because DCIAA supports only DCPS schools, inter-league games are limited to other DCPS high schools. Wilson does not see any of this money, since these details are managed by DCIAA.
DCIAA also provides a modest annual supplement for equipment and uniforms, which must be evenly distributed between girls and boys teams (due to Title IX). In 2018-19, this was $23,000 to be used across 20 teams as needed.
This is not nearly enough money to fully support the teams. To provide context, a new set of football uniforms costs approximately $18,000. This is where the SAF funding was able to supplement team expenses.
Furthermore, DCIAA funding cannot be used to support games outside the DCIAA network, and nearly all Wilson teams (all except 2) schedule and play games outside the DCIAA network. For example, when our teams play private schools, charter schools, or public schools outside of DCPS, DCIAA funding does not apply.
- Fundraising & Grants
Fundraising is a critical part of the success of Wilson’s teams, especially those that are not financially supported by DCIAA. As of 2019-20, this is more important than ever.
Teams actively fundraise many ways, including:
- Restaurant nights (team gets a percentage of receipts)
- Product sales (Krispy Crème, metal straws, popcorn, etc.)
- Hosting large sales events (Crew’s winter wreath and spring plant sales)
- Hosting large community events (Tenley Tiger Run)
Teams associated with Tiger Boosters have access to its 501c3 status to fundraise and solicit donations, in addition to using its tax-exempt status. With the help of the Tiger Boosters, teams are also applying for local grants to help fund equipment and other purchases, or to support their events, activities and general team needs.
- Parent Contributions
First, it is important to note that no players are turned away due to lack of ability to contribute to their team.
However, many parents are more than willing to help support their student-athlete’s programs, and are doing so. Teams solicit funds by setting non-mandatory “dues,” or through generalized solicitations (“pay what you can, we need to raise $XX”).
- Tiger Boosters
The Tiger Boosters is a fully registered and licensed 501c3 nonprofit. It is a relatively new organization, founded in 2017 and launched in July 2018. One of its key benefits to teams is that it allows them to solicit charitable contributions and to manage and access their funds without restriction.
Tiger Boosters also does its own fundraising, with specific goals that ultimately support the teams. These include paying coach stipends, offering scholarships to student-athletes, and supporting its own general operations expenses. You can learn more about the Tiger Boosters here
What are the key financial needs for Wilson athletics?
Non-league games, and tournaments (including DCSAA State Championships, for which no transportation funding is provided) are a crucial part of the Wilson athletics program. They often require our student-athletes to level up their skills and games, since private schools are better funded and supported, with multiple coaches where we might only have one or two. Our athletes love these games, and the rivalries we’ve acquired add to the pride of our successes. Plus it helps our athletes get noticed, which undoubtedly plays a role in why we have such a large number of student-athletes who go on to play sports in college and beyond, many on scholarships.
Every non-DCIAA game, tournament, or clinic that our student-athletes attend must be funded. This includes bus transportation (for away games), and paying officials (for home games). It includes event fees, hotels and meals for tournament trips. Plus our teams must now raise funds for uniforms and equipment large and small.
Prior to 2019, our teams already needed strong financial support, but now it’s more imperative than ever.
Tiger Booster's Coach & Scholarship Fund
Tiger Boosters established a dedicated fund for coach stipends and scholarships. It is asking each student-athlete’s family to contribute $100 per player for each season they play. This money is specifically ear-marked for the Coach & Scholarship Fund, and has a separate bank account and management process. Tiger Boosters hopes to cover $48,000 in coach stipends for the 2019-20 year, and would like to also provide scholarships toward team dues on behalf of players who cannot afford to contribute. Whether the Tiger Boosters can do this will depend on how much it is able to collect and fundraise for this specific purpose.
If the Tiger Boosters is unable to raise enough money to pay the coach stipends, then the burden is placed directly on the teams to cover coach stipends in addition to transportation, referee and other costs..
How are teams making this happen?
Teams have decided to take multiple approaches to manage their financial needs.
- Cutting back on their schedules (very few teams have chosen this option)
- Asking for direct contributions from parents (cost/dues per player + Coach & Scholarship Fund fee)
- Fundraising (lots and lots of fundraising!) (for all of it)
- A hybrid of both family contributions and fundraising
These decisions are made at the team level, often between coaches and parents. Whatever the teams decide, the parents and community play an incredibly important role.
If you’d like to donate to a particular team sport, head over to the relevant page and make a donation from that page. All those donations will be earmarked for that team, minus a small administrative fee. If you’d like to donate to the Coach & Scholarship Fund, please donate below.
To learn more about how Tiger Boosters facilitates all of this and other team benefits, check out the Tiger Boosters page here.
EVENTS & FUNDRAISERS
Tenley Tiger Run
DC Sneaker Expo
CAMPS, CLINICS & TOURNAMENTS
Basketball Summer Camp
Woodrow Wilson High School
3950 Chesapeake St NW
Washington DC 20011