“National Independence Day Parade Fundraising”

2023 Innovative Fundraising Award Recipient

South Atlanta High School “Marching Hornets”

South Atlanta High School
Atlanta, Georgia


To provide access to an out-of-state band experience, the South Atlanta High School Marching Hornets used a variety of fundraising methods to showcase the strengths of their band program on a national stage at the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C. Those methods include crowdsourcing, donations from the school district and local nonprofits, and selling concessions.


  • To increase access to an out-of-state band experience for historically marginalized students by raising funds to cover the cost of travel expenses and parade registration fees.
  • To showcase the strengths of predominantly Black and Hispanic urban band program on a national stage.
  • To expose students to other performance groups from across the country, as well as historic American landmarks and experiences.

Target Audience

The target audience of our advocacy initiative was anyone interested in supporting the South Atlanta High School Marching Hornets. They were the focus because they could possibly donate funds to help our students participate in the National Independence Day Parade. The amount of the donation was not the most important factor. Every little bit helped toward the cause!


The overall timeline was a calendar year. Parents and guardians were notified of the cost a year before the trip. The next year was spent garnering funding from a variety of sources, like concession sales and donations from nonprofits and the local school district. We also publicized the need through social media and local news stations, who shared the crowdsourcing link. Additionally, performances were held in the community to garner more donations.

Overview of Planning and Execution

Parents and guardians were involved in the planning and execution. They sold concessions and paid a portion of their student’s fees for the trip. They committed a variety of times depending on their availability. Our school administrators helped raise funds by making connections to nonprofit organizations and encouraging colleagues to make donations via crowdsourcing. Their time commitment was minimal. The school district arts coordinator also supported the trip by donating district funds to the trip. Her time commitment was minimal.

Tools and Resources

We used social media to publicize the trip and how supporters could donate, as well as to publicize thanks to our donors. We used apps to crowdsource monetary donations. The main resource was our network of supporters, including local nonprofits, like the Henry Louis Aaron Fund of the Atlanta Braves Foundation and Gas South, and our school district that funded the charter bus costs.

Marketing and Promotion

The strategy we used for promoting the initiative was social media. It was shared on the school’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages. We also performed at various events and were featured on a local news show to publicize our fundraising efforts. We also used word of mouth. Our school administrators and arts coordinator shared the opportunity with nonprofits, who donated funds for increased student participation.


Expenditures included the cost of concessions ($1200), which were resold for a profit, as well as school bus transportation ($300) to get students to various performing events to publicize our fundraising efforts.


Traditional fundraising efforts, like cookie dough or popcorn sales, are typically not successful in underresourced communities. The ability to sell to friends and families is drastically reduced, so alternate means of fundraising are necessary. We really had to beat the pavement and throw the net wide to attract funders. Spreading the word through social media and local news stations was imperative. Additionally, our ability to perform in the community to garner more funding was important.

Success/Effectiveness Measurement

Our advocacy initiative was effective. The out-of-state band experience happened! In recent years, bands in Atlanta Public Schools typically have not taken an out-of-state trip due to funding restrictions, not to mention COVID. So, for the South Atlanta High School Marching Hornets to raise funds for a large number of students to experience this opportunity is commendable! The obstacles were many.

Community Impact

More students had access to the experience, because we were able to offset the cost to each family. The original cost of the trip was $676, but with our fundraising efforts, the cost to each family was $200. We were also able to cover the cost of the trip for students that did not have the means to pay the $200. Additionally, we showcased the strengths of a predominantly Black and Hispanic urban band on a national stage. The South Atlanta High School Marching Hornets were the final band in the National Independence Day Parade! Also, many of our students were able to venture outside of the city for the first time. They participated in the laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unkown Soldier, visited national monuments, and experienced performances by other musical groups. The advocacy initiative to raise funds positively impacted our students’ musical learning and personal growth, which will have an even greater impact on our music program. The positive media coverage will help change the narrative of music programs in an urban school and school district.

Advice for others?

Start early. Spread the word and ask others to share the word. Mobilize the communications office for your school district. Social media and local news stations are your friends.

Supporting Materials