KI/KJ: Public Solicitations/Advertising in the Schools

K: School-Community Relations

Section 1: Definition of Terms

“Advertising” is an oral, written or graphic statement, made by the producer, manufacturer, or seller of products, equipment, or services, which calls for the public’s attention to arouse a desire to buy, use, or patronize the product, equipment, or services. This includes the visible promotion of product logos for other than identification purposes. Advertising or sponsorship is not the sale of goods/services to the district, the schools or the parent advisory councils for market value where items have brand names, trademarks, logos or tags for product/service identification. Also, nothing in this policy or procedure is intended to limit announcements, information, or logos of schools, DPAC or school PACs or the Vancouver Public Schools Foundation.

"Donation” is a gift or contribution of money, goods or services, given to a school or the school district.  A donation is given without expectation of something of value in return.  While the school or the VSB does provide appropriate donor recognition, any expectation of specific returns from the VSB or schools would make a contribution a sponsorship and not a donation.  Tax receipts for charitable purposes are issued for donations. 

“Partnership” is a contract between a school or school district and a private entity, wherein the basis and the terms of the relationship are set by the school district, and agreed upon by the private entity, or reached mutually.  In many instances a partnership is less formal than a contractual relationship.  

“Recognition” means any form of acknowledgment or consideration provided by a school or the VSB for a donation, sponsorship or partnership. 

“Sponsorship” is:  1) a strategic positioning tool that links a company or brand to a school or the district in a partnership for mutual benefit; 2) a contractual arrangement between a school or the district and a company designed to benefit both parties.  The partnership is marketing-oriented (not philanthropic) and is usually developed around a specific program, event or service of the charity.  Tax receipts for charitable purposes are not issued for sponsorships.  This is a marketing strategy and considered a business expense by the company and by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. 

“Sponsored Educational Materials” are educational materials and programs developed and/or funded by commercial enterprises, trade or industry organizations, or non-profit organizations

with significant corporate backing whose aim is to increase the sales of products or services of the funding industry. These materials are intended for use or distribution at schools, and can be intended for use as either primary or supplemental curriculum. 

Section 2:  Values and Principles 

Value Statement 

The VSB recognizes its obligations as a provider of public education to protect the welfare of students and maintain the integrity of the learning environment.  This includes the obligation to protect students from advertising when they are in school. 

Parents entrust their children to the district for education and instruction. This relationship does not include permission for their children to be marketed to while in our care. 

School-business relationships based on sound principles and community input can contribute to high quality education.  When working together, schools and businesses must ensure that educational values are not compromised in the process.  

The VSB believes there is a role for corporate involvement within the school district. The VSB supports corporate participation that has a clear educational advantage for students. 

Principles governing school-business relationships 

Positive school-business relationships should be ethical and structured in accordance with the following principles:    

1. Consistency with District Educational Standards and Goals.  

All corporate support or activity must enhance learning opportunities for students, must be structured to meet student, not commercial, needs and shall be consistent with District educational standards and goals. 

2.   Consistency with VSB and School Values 

Corporate support or activity must be consistent with school codes of conduct and VSB policies, including those prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability, and must be age-appropriate for the students involved. This policy will be consistent with all relevant human rights legislation. 

The VSB is interested in partnerships that will reflect positively on the district, particularly with companies that are committed to socially responsible policies and practices.  

The VSB will avoid partnering with companies:

 that negatively represent or portray public education

 that are related to tobacco, alcohol or weapons

 that have been involved in any type of criminal offense or professional misconduct

 that have exploitive labour practices, and

 that have products or services that are incompatible with a child’s well-being or have a negative effect on the learning experience 

No partnership will be entered into that would require the school or district to sell products or services to students.  

Partnerships should be of a non-exclusive nature. 

Sponsorship and partnership agreements should provide resources to complement and not replace public funding for education. 

3.        The VSB and School Must Retain Control of the Curriculum 

District/school personnel must retain discretion over how or whether to integrate commercially sponsored or provided material or programs into the curriculum. 

School activities shall not be about a commercial sponsor, e.g. students shall not be required to make art projects or write essays primarily about sponsors. 

4.         Students Must Not be Required to View Advertising 

No sponsorship or other agreement shall require students to observe, listen to or read advertising in the school building. 

All company logos appearing on District property, including logos on materials, supplies, or equipment purchased, rented, or leased by or donated to the District, shall be for product or sponsor identification purposes only.  

5.         Students Shall Not be Required to Advertise. 

No corporate relationship shall be permitted which requires students to advertise a product, service, company, or industry.  This prohibition on student advertising includes athletic uniforms and equipment, although uniforms and equipment may display the name or logo of the uniform and equipment manufacturer or supplier.  

6.         Limits on collecting/disclosure of personal information 

The district has a duty to protect students’ privacy and personal information. Students and schools shall not be required to complete surveys, electronic or otherwise, to provide marketing information to vendors, or distribute to vendors any personal student information , including, but not limited to names, addresses, and telephone numbers, except as may be required by law.   No canvassing of students for commercial purposes is allowed on school premises. 

7.         Appropriate recognition of sponsors and partners 

The VSB will acknowledge sponsors’ and partners’ contributions through appropriate, non-commercial forms of recognition. 

Section 3:  Advertising in Schools and on School Property 

Specific Limitations on District and School Based Advertising 

The VSB does not permit activity that includes:

the use of students to promote a product, service, or event that is being promoted for private gain or giving a carte blanche to promote any outside enterprise through the school;

advertising of any kind in the schools and on school property, unless approved by or through the principal as being of educational value to the students or to the local community;

vending machine facades shall not be used for advertising.  The name and logo of product manufacturers, such as the soft drink makers, can appear in small print if they are for identification purposes only.

the distribution of advertising through students of a school, unless approved by or through the principal as being of educational value to the students or to the local community. Approved materials can be made available to be picked up at schools. Parents can be notified about these items via the school newsletter.

school names being associated with any form of personal or commercial advertising;

the use of the VSB delivery system for the distribution of advertising matter (circulars, posters, lists, catalogues), unless approved by a senior official of the VSB.

advertising in or on the vehicles owned by the District or operated by contracted transportation providers, other than public providers.   This does not apply to taxis hired by the district.

the exploitation of students as money collectors, ticket vendors, organization representatives, or promoters of outside organizations, in any capacity. Any deviation from this policy must be accompanied by written permission from the Superintendent.

students who undertake to distribute brochures or other advertising material for profit-making organizations will not be permitted to distribute such material on the school grounds, as such promotional material, taken home by other students, is assumed by parents to have been endorsed by the Board.


Organizations that are permitted to publicize their activities in schools are usually non-profit organizations that offer services or programs of educational value to our students.

Organizations not permitted to publicize their activities in schools are usually commercial profit-making organizations that link an educational activity to the advertising of services or products.

Students may be exposed to advertising in school in the following circumstances:

  1. The use of advertising is permitted in connection with courses of study which have specific lessons related to advertising.
  2. Advertising is permitted in publications such as yearbooks, school newspapers, and event programs.
  3. Supplementary classroom and library materials such as newspapers, magazines, television, the internet and similar media containing advertising are permitted where they are used for educational purposes.
  4. Information concerning educational activities or opportunities of interest to students and others in the school community, such as flyers and brochures regarding, for example, sports camps, music lessons, tutors, daycares, performances or events, can be posted or placed in an area accessible to parents provided that the school principal or designee reviews the material in advance.  This type of material cannot be put into report card packages.

Limits on Promotional Information in Curriculum Materials

Neither the District nor any school shall purchase or use any sponsored educational materials that contain promotional information about a product, service, company, or industry that is inappropriate to the lesson being taught in the context of the curriculum.   

Section 4:  Accountability and transparency

Annual Review

The VSB will undertake an annual review process to gauge the effectiveness of this policy in achieving the objective of protecting the integrity of the learning environment, while engaging business partners, sponsors and donors in supporting Vancouver schools.

Sponsorship agreements

  1. Sponsorship agreements must be recorded in writing.
  2. The goals, objectives and benefits of the relationships must be stated clearly at the outset.
  3. The roles and responsibilities of all parties (students, teachers, parents, schools, the district, sponsors) must be clearly defined.
  4. Resources provided by all parties must be clearly described.
  5. Records of the operational activities of the relationship should be maintained.
  6. Sponsorship performance should be reviewed regularly to ensure ongoing benefits.
  7. Sponsorships should be relatively short term (one school year at a time) and be renewable if desired. There should be provision for cancellation and/or re-negotiation.
  8. A summary of corporate sponsorships at the school shall be included as part of each school’s annual report to the superintendent. Financial summaries are to be made available and public.
  9. Contracts signed with partners and sponsors shall be accessible to any member of the public.

School Level Approval Process

Decisions regarding school level sponsorships must be developed and structured in collaboration with all partners – the principal, teachers, support staff, parents (through the school PAC), students (where applicable), the community (where appropriate).

District Level Approval Process

Decisions on district-wide partnerships shall be made at the board level. Sponsorships which would provide any form of recognition greater than at the school site or school activity level, must be approved by the VSB superintendent, who will determine whether the approval of the Board of Trustees should be sought.

Section 5:  Donor and Sponsor Recognition

It is appropriate that sponsors and donors receive recognition for their support. Recognition should be focused and directed to adults and parents. Such recognition can be in the form of a mention in the school newsletter, presentation at an assembly, a news release, or letter to the sponsor involved.

In some cases, recognition in the form of a temporary display of the logo of a sponsor may be appropriate.  This could include a sign or banner at an event or the placement of a suitable plaque or nameplate in the case of significant contributions. The purpose of the display should be for sponsor identification only. Permanent plaques recognizing donors will not feature logos but donor names can appear in regular type.

In determining whether a logo is for identification or advertising, the following criteria should be used:  the size and location of the logo, the attention drawn to the logo compared with the intended use of the material, and the age of the students who will view it.     

Schools should consider the appropriateness of the type of recognition at elementary and secondary schools and the quantity, location, dimensions, and duration of displays of corporate identifiers placed in the school. Banners or other displays should also indicate the context for the appearance of the logo (e.g. banners at the school tournaments could indicate that the tournament has been sponsored by the organizations whose logos appear, as opposed to simply displaying a corporate logo with no other accompanying information.)

In the event that a decision about sponsorship, advertising or logo placement is disputed by a member of the school community, the decision in question will go to a special committee made up of the Superintendent and Trustees who will review the original decision made and decide on an appropriate action.

The VSB does not offer naming of its programs or facilities after corporations or individuals who have made large donations as a form of recognition. Facilities are named in accordance with the criteria and procedures outlined in Policies FF and FFC.

Note: The Board's policy with regard to collections for charitable and fund-raising purposes on the schools is filed under JL, Student Gifts and Solicitations:  see also IGDF, Student Fund-Raising Activities.  Board policy with regard to the distribution of special materials by outside groups on school premises is filed under code IIAD, Special interest Materials.

DMT Responsibility: SUPT

Cross References: 
IIAD: Special Interest Materials; IICA: Field Trips and Excursions; JL: Student Gifts and Solicitations
Adopted Date: 
Sunday January 01, 1978
Revision Date: 
Oct 1982
Sep 1994
Nov 2005