Common Cents was started in 1998 by philanthropist Louise Gartner. Louise, who passed away at age 96, watched the program blossom and take shape with support from the Dallas Independent School District. For the last 18 years Gigi Gartner directs the program.
Common Cents is a student-driven educational program offered through the Dallas ISD to teach philanthropy by enabling students to play an active role in raising money for their communities. The program provides a forum for students to identify community needs, plan and organize fundraising activities, then review and grant funds to local non-profits. The forum is conducted in a round-table format comprised of a teacher sponsor and up to six students. On average, 36 schools, 50 sponsors, and 200 students participate each year. It all begins with a Fall Kick-Off.
By taking part in Common Cents, students learn philanthropy, fundraising, and leadership skills, which enriches their lives and better prepares them for the future. To date, more than $950,000 has been distributed to area non-profits through this program and more than 70 scholarships have been awarded to students. Every year up to two High School Juniors and Seniors who participate in Common Cents may receive scholarships of $3,000 each to a college or trade school of their choice.
Donations made to Common Cents support the student scholarship fund as well as student fundraising activities. One-hundred percent of funds raised by students go directly to non-profit organizations. All donations are tax deductible through the Communities Foundation of Texas, a 501c3 non-profit organization.
To donate to the Common Cents program