Committee has played a huge role in grant funding for the Atascadero school district for the last 15 years.

ATASCADERO — The Committee for Atascadero Public Schools (CAPS) is officially in the process of dissolving. CAPS has been a staple in grant funding for the last 15 years, raising close to $1 million for the public school classrooms of Atascadero. 

Earlier this year, Head Chair Nicole Hider and Event Chair Lori Bickel announced that they would be stepping down from their roles in CAPS, with hopes of new people taking over their chairs.

“Unfortunately, nobody has stepped forward to take the mantel of leadership for the organization,” Hider said.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

While the nonprofit is dissolving, CAPS is still wrapping up the grants they awarded for this year, and the organization will continue through the end of the 2021-22 school year to its completion in June. Hider added that it will probably take several months for CAPS’s other business, like ending contracts and closing bank accounts, to conclude. 

“Volunteerism is just down across the board. CAPS is just a causality of that,” Hider said. “We’re not the only organization that’s facing a reduction in numbers and in leadership. Sadly, we just don’t have the people to make CAPS run the way it did 15 or even 10 years ago. 

“When I first started with CAPS 13 years ago, I went to a board meeting that had 40 people in attendance. That wasn’t even the committees; that was just the primary group. And now our board is down to about seven people. It’s just not sustainable to operate an organization that requires so much effort with so few people.”

Hider said that they were seeing a reduction in volunteers before COVID-19 and that if CAPS had not needed to take their fundraiser online, the nonprofit might have dissolved prior to 2022. 

“Because we moved to an online event, we were able to put on a fundraiser with seven people and a few others helping with individual tasks,” she said. “We had a very small group, and we were able to do the online event, but we could not have done a Gala dinner, auction, entertainment, etc., at a venue with seven people.” 

The CAPS website, atascaderocaps.org, will continue to be updated, and chair@atascaderocaps.org will be monitored for the next couple of months and beyond.

“If there were someone who wanted to do something with CAPS, we would support that and mentor them on the administrative part of it,” continued Hider.

This year CAPS funded the brand new Model UN Club at Atascadero High School, on top of many other AUSD groups and festivals.

“This is going to be a big loss to the district,” Hider said. “We’ve donated between $50,000 and $70,000 to the school district the last couple of years, and it primarily supports our mission is outside the box activities, like greenhouses, outdoor desks, and lots of art and science projects. Hands-on stuff for kids that really engage them in learning.”

There are hopes that CAPS will make a revival sometime in the future and continue benefiting the AUSD.

“Our last meeting was just really heartbreaking for all of us to look at each other and to think this was ending, but we can’t sustain it with our small group any longer,” Hider said.