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Long City Limits

JL Long Middle School, TX

6116 Reiger Ave, Dallas, TX 75214, USA
Dallas ISD
Director: Caitlin Schmidt
Category: Fundraising Program
Award: Bronze, 2020

Project Description

Six years ago, JL Long Middle School had a principal with a vision. She tasked us with creating an annual fundraiser event for our school that was unique to band and engaged the community in a meaningful way. Due to that vision, the JL Long Band created an event called Long City Limits. It is an annual fundraising event every October that brings our middle school (6th-8th) students together with the community and local live bands to put on a music festival to raise funds for the band.

Students in 6th through 8th grades participate in this fundraising event by helping find community sponsorships, helping with food catering set-up, band merchandise set-up, and by helping the stage hands move equipment and work the sound board and light boards. The student led drum line performs outside the venue to create excitement and encourage local shoppers and diners to stop in and check out our event.

Over the summer, students and parents of the Boosters reach out to area businesses for donations and raffles. Donations are collected by our Booster chairs and sponsors receive benefits such as space on our t-shirts, recognition on our slide show, and recognition on our concert programs and at every performance we have throughout the year. Our goal every year is to raise at least $10,000 (after expenses) and we have surpassed that goal for 3 out of the 6 years we have been doing this event! Over the course of Long City Limits, we have raised over $50,000 for the band program and all of those funds get funneled directly back to the students. The budget received through the school district is limited and the funds raised through Long City Limits help provide instruments and services to our students. Through this fundraiser specifically, the boosters have been able to acquire new instruments such as tubas and percussion equipment, new music stands and chairs, and private lessons for all students who have requested them and are in financial need.

This event also incorporates our local community bands by performing for our students and community members to expose them to what music can look like after they leave high school. We have bands ranging in styles and genres to represent all the different types of music our community members, students included, are interested in. We also are able to host this amazing event at one of our communities most historic performance venues, The Granada Theater. We also have one to two student bands perform on stage to start the show each year. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of our students and they talk about the event for months after. It’s a great way to start of each school year and garner recognition for not only our band program, but our local musicians and businesses who give back throughout the year. It’s always a great time and I look forward to it each year!

Target Audience

The target audience for this project is first, our students. We have approximately 350 students in the JL Long Band each year and we encourage and incentivize each of them to come! Our second target audience is our community. We host bands of different genres to encourage all demographics to attend the event and participate in the local live music scene. We typically see representation at the event that is reflective of our community demographics with an even balance of students and adults.

Overview of planning and execution process for this project

Follow-up brainstorming meetings typically happen in late October immediately after the event so we can come up with ways to make the event better for the next year. We reach out to the venue and the bands around May to get dates nailed down for fall. We then reach out to business sponsors during the summer months so that when school starts back up in August, we are planned and ready to promote the event. We have committee meetings once a month to discuss the event and make sure we are all on track to make Long City Limits the best we possibly can. Our event takes place early October and the schedule starts over.

Sponsors/charities/volunteers/ other groups involved in the project and the benefits to each.

The event is paid for through community donors and business sponsors starting with our local small businesses. We also have family sponsorships that help fund the event and many volunteers that help put this event on. Our community donors typically pay for the venue while our family sponsorships typically pay for the bands. Our volunteers consist of band parents and band students that help make the event run smoothly on the day of. We have parents and students helping with ticketing, food service, merchandise sales, sound and light tech, and seating. The event runs smoothly each year due to our parents and students planning and help. Our community members make the event happen from a financial standpoint and our parents and students help make the event happen by working the event.

Community Impact

This program has gained a lot of community recognition for our band program and our school as well as the local bands that help us make this event a reality. Long City Limits has become an annual event that our school and community members look forward to attending and each year ticket sales and attendance has increased.

Overall budget


Specific Budget Breakdown

  • Venue Rental (Granada Theater)- $1000
  • Sign printing costs- $150 (much of the cost outside the $150 is donated by our community)
  • T-Shirt printing- $500
  • Band Payments- $850 (payments for 3 local live bands)

New or recurring project?


How did you update/change this project from its previous occurrence?

When we first looked at implementing a music festival, the first issue was obviously venue and which bands to contact. During the first three years, Long City Limits was hosted at a local amphitheater to replicate an outdoor music festival atmosphere. We had local food trucks attend the event and it was come and go as you please with the purchase of a wrist band. This was effective but we weren’t raising the kinds of funds we wanted to and the attendance was seriously lacking. We brain stormed a way to raise attendance and therefor the funds raised, and came up with hosting the event at a live music venue to frame the event in a way that would encourage both students and families to attend, but also community members who love live music. Since the change to The Granada, we have increased our attendance but 200% and increased our overall funds raised by 150%.

Challenges/obstacles that were encountered

We started reaching out to live local bands that our community members wanted to hear more from. We conducted a survey and gathered feedback from community members, students, and parents. We also incorporated more student bands into the program to give them an opportunity to perform on a professional and historical stage. We also began incorporating our students into running the event and allowing the students the opportunity to promote the event and get our community members excited about attending. The location has also changed as well as the food options. We decided to use local restaurants to cater the event to help promote our communities small businesses and we approach smaller local businesses for sponsorships over larger corporations to encourage the same promotion.

Measurement of the success/effectiveness of this project?

We have met our goal the last 3 years of $10,000 due to our brain storming sessions that take place each year immediately following the event.

The following is what we raised after all expenses were paid:

  • 2013 = $4292.00
  • 2014 = $5602.13
  • 2015 = $5421.12
  • 2016 = $10012.23
  • 2017 = $10989.76
  • 2018 = $12124.09

The funds increased substantially after we moved our event from an outdoor event to an indoor event and after we began reaching out to our community sponsors during the summer utilizing both parents and students.

The following is the attendance we’ve experienced over the years as well:

  • 2013 = 89
  • 2014 = 121
  • 2015 = 113
  • 2016 = 214
  • 2017 = 228
  • 2018 = 248

Our attendance has steadily increased each year due to more word of mouth recognition of the event and having the event for a smaller time window so that people can fit the event into their schedules. We host our event on Sundays after church so families have a good place to go after church and we don’t have as many sports conflicts.

Advice for someone looking to replicate this project in their own community?

I would recommend starting small and borrowing ideas from already successful music festivals. You can change and edit the event to suite your community and purposes better once you’ve seen one year of implementation. Each year, we learn so much from the event and our brainstorming sessions always help us come up with ideas to make the next event better. Never be afraid of change and always keep looking for ways to improve your event- even when you’ve met your goals.

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