“Know Your Nonprofits” is a weekly column from The Times-Standard that takes an in-depth look at nonprofits in Humboldt County. The nonprofit featured this week is the California Retired Teachers Association, Division 27 North Coast. Donna Clark, Division 27 President and Membership Chair, answered the following questions.
Briefly describe your organization and its mission: The mission of CalRTA, California Retired Teachers Association is to protect and defend retired and active educator pensions and other retirement benefits and to support public education in our communities. Locally, we are the North Coast 27 division, covering Humboldt and Del Norte counties. We established the 27th Division in 1954. Today CalRTA is one of the largest retired teachers’ organizations in the country with over 43,000 members in 86 local divisions (similar to chapters) statewide. .
When and why was this association founded? : CalRTA began in 1929 as the country was going through the Great Depression. A small group of teachers came together to fight for better pensions for colleagues who lived in poverty after a lifetime of teaching. In 1929, a retired schoolteacher received a maximum of $ 500 per year in retirement benefits. Laura E. Settle, founder and president of CalRTA until 1945, drove the dusty roads of the state to help organize teachers in a common cause. All were invited to join the annual membership fee of $ 1. After several years, CalRTA made its first major breakthrough in 1934, when pensions were finally increased.
Is there anything you wish more people knew about the organization or the issues that this nonprofit is trying to solve? The North Coast 27 Division wants people to know that the “Professor” on our behalf is an inherited name. So in fact, we have administrators, librarians, school nurses and speech language pathologists and other educators who are members. Anyone who supports our mission is welcome. We also have a lot of teacher spouses who are members. Our biggest problem right now is overturning the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Compensation (GPO), two laws that unfairly target teachers who have contributed to Social Security.
Where does most of the association’s funding come from? : Funding for CalRTA comes entirely from membership dues and donations. We also fundraise for teacher scholarships from donations and promote student teacher scholarships from our Humboldt Area Foundation account.
How can people get involved in your organization? : Everyone is welcome to visit our national and local websites: calrta.org and div27.calrta.org. These websites will give people more information, contacts and membership requests.
We are sponsoring a blood drive on November 10th. Everyone is welcome to donate that week to the Northern California Community Blood Bank or mobile clinics. Just mention “CalRTA”. On our last drive, we donated 30 pints.
Tell me about some of the recent accomplishments of your organization: North Coast Division 27 donates $ 250 annually to the Clarke Historical Museum, Morris Graves Museum of Art, Discovery Museum, and Sequoia Park Education Fund. We run annual scholarships for student teachers and have new scholarships for new teachers in South Humboldt, Greater Eureka Area, North Humboldt and Del Norte County. We average about 25 of these $ 100 grants a year. In Del Norte County we have scholarships for Del Norte High School students entering education. Since 2006, we have donated approximately $ 120,000 in grants and scholarships. Our members volunteer thousands of hours in our communities. Our members are small, so with just 23 of our over 560 members, we have logged 12,631 volunteer hours for 2020.
What challenges has the pandemic created for your organization and how has the nonprofit met these challenges? We had to stop meeting a year ago in March like everyone else. I started having board meetings through Zoom. I have asked my board of directors to meet monthly rather than every two months. Then we had our first Zoom General Assembly on October 8, 2020. We have met this way every two months since then. We hope to organize a picnic in person next September. We tried to call all of our members as some were unable to join Zoom. We continued to publish our newsletter and distribute it by mail and email.
To participate in the “Know Your Nonprofit Organizations” section, contact Heather Shelton at [email protected]