JROTC has not had the funding available to do many things over the last 2 years and I believe that it will either remain the same or become worse over time. Therein lies two issues, 1) recruitment of cadets and, 2) funding.
A little while back, I posted on Instagram that I wanted cadets to send me their ideas on fundraising that they do at their school to help defray the costs of drill team, color guard, etc. and some of the ideas spilled over into how to recruit students into the corps. Some of the ideas I already had, but there were also several good ideas to come from my request.
High schools are “fed” by middle or elementary schools. If the middle school does not already have some sort of military-based program, cadets in JROTC need to interact with students in the eighth grade to give them a taste of what cadet life can be like. Examples of this are doing PT with students at the middle school and/or having the drill team work with interested cadets once a month after school. Any positive interaction is a must. See also the article The JROTC “Feeder” Program. and How to Plan and Coordinate a Color Guard Event has some recruiting information as well from a Civil Air Patrol perspective.
Community involvement. Having cadets seen by others as well involved in the community as servant-leaders is an outstanding idea. Cadets by the side of the road cleaning up, marching in parades, presenting the colors for the school board, elementary/middle schools, the county board of directors, veteran organizations, or providing a cordon for VIPs at a community event, will go a long way to establish concrete relations with local people, organizations and businesses.
Performing in the community then generates interest from younger students who see cadets in uniform performing at events and everyone who might be able to donate to the program who see the same thing or even just hear of cadet involvement. Everyone wins in these situations while your team or even the whole unit is perceived as a valuable asset.
The typical school fundraiser. Each year one of the schools where I teach the morning drill class and work the after-school drill programs, one of the cadets came to me selling cheesecake and she knew (she graduated!) that I would be good for purchasing one of the items. I don’t eat sweets all that much at all, so the first year I just handed a slice out to my drill class cadets. This is what most parents do, they know that $20 here and there will help a worthwhile program and do not mind shelling it out once or twice a year.
Atypical fundraisers. Golf outings, raffles. Fundraising-Ideas.org.
The “Ship Store”. One of the cadets offering advice mentioned that her NJROTC unit has what they call a Ship Store where they sell all kinds of things including school supplies and snacks to the whole student body. The store is open to all students before and after school and during lunch and open to cadets throughout the day. Cadet volunteers manage the store under the oversight of the instructors and they make a considerable amount of money.
JROTC Booster Club. If parents or other local interested adults are not involved in the program, it’s time to get them involved. It takes one hour a month for the meeting and a few hours of work after that.
Cadets, instructors and parents are going to have to find ways to raise funds to make their extra-curricular programs work and work well. Hopefully, this article has brought your unit one step closer to accomplishing that. If you have a unique idea, please comment on this article.