Let your creativity wander with budget support

The secret world of SPA budgeting for student-led groups continues to attract curiosity. Each club, council, and now affinity groups and advisories are provided a yearly budget. This funding can be used in numerous ways as long as it relates to the group. Although, uses and responsibilities differ in regard to councils and affinities.

Upper School Council has a budget of $1000, excluding any spillover money from the previous year. Annie Zhang, the USC treasurer, manages all aspects of funds. “The budget at the moment is currently in a gray area,” Zhang admitted. Zhang acknowledges that the cost of the House Cup ice cream award at the end of the year is leaving the council with a minimal budget to fall back on if necessary.

Currently, USC is drafting a new plan to manage all of its allocations. “If the House Cup winner award was being paid for by USC, that would take up a little over half of the budget, which puts us in jeopardy of not being able to fund clubs and affinity groups,” Zhang said

As the treasurer, Zhang leads USC in decisions regarding their budget. She gives a rundown on how USC handles budgets. When clubs and affinity groups need money, they present their reasoning to the council. The council takes pride in the process of listening to and approving requests based on their purpose and how attainable the requests are. “A whole council vote will be taken to approve of the request and the person requesting is then free to do whatever they intended to do with the money with the guarantee that USC will reimburse them,” Zhang said.

Before last year, affinity groups were not provided with a budget. If funds were needed for any reason regarding the group, they had to present their case to USC. With USC having a key role in distributing funds to different groups, Zhang credits organization as a key part of how they manage budgets and distribution effectively. Zhang explained the most important part of the lending money process: “The biggest thing is saving receipts or any documents that give the proof of purchase, or else we won’t be able to reimburse someone the money.”

A whole council vote will be taken to approve of the request and the person requesting is then free to do whatever they intended to do with the money with the guarantee that USC will reimburse them.

— Annie Zhang

As the treasurer, Zhang is responsible for reimbursing groups in a timely manner. However, the month-long process can be prolonged when there is a lack of communication. “I genuinely appreciate it when someone is clear and concise with me when I fill out the paperwork to get their money reimbursed,” Zhang explains.

Alexis Irish, the Intercultural Life Program Specialist for the Upper and Middle schools, manages all the affinity and special interest groups. Irish explained that budgets for affinity groups were a new addition last year: “Each group gets $50 to use at their discretion.” This new budget relieves student leaders of snack duties and allows more groups to plan events.

Due to how foreign budgeting is to affinity groups, Irish is waiting to see how the year plays out regarding how much money each group will need. “We are doing budgets for the first time, so we are just seeing what works and getting feedback, changing accordingly.”

Irish mentions how her joining SPA’s intercultural life department last year allowed room for managing affinity groups. “It was the first time the school had someone managing affinities, meaning there were more resources for groups,” she clarified.

Budgets give student-led organizations the opportunity to reach out to their community, whether that is through hosting celebrations, drives, or even bake sales. With the hefty funds provided, there is the hope for groups to not only establish their goals but use newly provided resources to help achieve them.