This may come as a surprise to those not involved in Atascadero’s educational system, but the Committee for Atascadero Public Schools, commonly referred to as CAPS, is not organized by the Atascadero Unified School District. Formed in 2007, the volunteer-run nonprofit operates under the umbrella of the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation and is comprised of parents, community members and teachers, both retired and active. The organization has grown over the years to include more than 35 event sponsors and a 15-member board. Though traditionally teachers provided the majority of support and organization, in the past few years more parents have added to the ranks. 

Thirteen years ago the inspiration for CAPS came from the school district’s budget restraints. Many educators provide additional resources to their students from their own bank accounts. CAPS 2019 Co-Chairs Hayley Mattson and Nicole Hider said that the committee’s drive and passion for the fundraiser is to be able to provide the teachers of AUSD the opportunity to be creative when planning their curriculum. 

“We are extremely grateful to all of our volunteers, sponsors and donors in supporting our efforts to raise funding for grants,” Mattson said. “Each year our community supports our organization and offers monetary funds, auction items, or in-kind donations to be sure that our event continues to be a great success! Over the last 12 years, CAPS, with the help of our sponsors and our community, has been able to give the teachers and the students of AUSD over $880,000!” 

The CAPS grant process supports proposals that demonstrate “out-of-the-box-thinking” and activities that enrich student learning and promote positive and applicable skills, and also “gives educators the ability to take their educational passions to the next level without spending a considerable portion of their own income.” 

So that each request is based on its own merits, grant readers never know who wrote the petition, only the grade level and the school. The grant money is distributed to all schools within AUSD. The amount of money awarded is based on the number of students at each location. Over the years, CAPS has provided grants for items and activities such as field trips for Spanish Immersion, choir trips to competitions, field trips to Hearst Castle and the Estrella Warbird Museum, musical instruments, photo book projects, the annual Battle of Books event, iPads, outside educational speakers, a traveling naturalist, sensory play, visits to Zoo to You, a “Buddy Bench,” science equipment and greenhouses just to name a few. 

Each year CAPS hosts its Evening for Education, a fundraising dinner that features a live and silent auction and ends with a lively casino. This year’s event will take place at the Atascadero Lake Pavilion on Saturday, August 24. Last year the organization raised more than $85,000 through sponsorships, donations and auctions. This year’s event theme is “Granting Wishes” and will portray an Aladdin-esque “Arabian Nights” style theme and will even feature a professional belly dancer to entertain the guests.

CAPS Evening for Education tickets are $80 per person with the option of purchasing a table that seats eight and are now available online at atascaderocaps.org. This event sells out every year so be sure to get your tickets today! 

For more information about CAPS, additional details about the grants, to volunteer or to purchase tickets for this year’s 13th Annual Evening for Education, visit atascaderocaps.org.