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Lottery Funds at Work

Recognized as one of the fastest growing lotteries in the United States, the California Lottery saw its sales rise by 11.7% in Fiscal Year 2017-18. In all, the Lottery had its best year on record achieving sales of just under $7 billion. 

The great news is that when Lottery sales continue to be strong, public education here in the Golden State is the biggest winner of all. The Lottery sent a record of just more than $1.7 billion in supplemental funding to California public schools. The Lottery has always, and will continue to be committed to finding even more ways to help support the schools that educate our children.

Since 1985, Lottery players have contributed $34.2 billion to help create more educational opportunities for California’s students. With the help of these funds, public schools are able to attract and retain quality teachers, buy classroom supplies and state-of-the-art equipment, and keep important programs running that might otherwise be cut. However, none of this would be possible without our players.

Funding in Perspective

In FY 2017-18, the California Lottery and its players returned more than $1 billion to public schools in our state for the 18th consecutive year! While this contribution currently represents less than 1.5% of the state’s public schools annual budget, remember that Lottery funds are meant only to supplement public education - not to replace state and local funding. We concede that in the bigger picture, our contributions to education are a drop in the bucket, but teachers and school administrators tell us every penny helps.

To put Lottery Funding in perspective, it amounts to about $211 per pupil for this past fiscal year. This is based on last fiscal year's contribution of $1.7 billion divided by the average daily attendance (ADA) figures used by the California State Controller's Office for all Lottery beneficiaries. Funding usage is at the discretion of each beneficiary and must be in accordance with the California State Lottery Act and Proposition 20.

The Lottery’s mandate, as defined in the California State Lottery Act, is to provide supplemental funding to California public education at all levels. K-12 education, Community Colleges, the California State University, the University of California and other educational entities all benefit from Lottery proceeds. All segments of public schools receive the same per pupil funding level from the Lottery based on the average daily attendance of students in each school district. Since 1985, the educational institutions that receive Lottery funds and their cumulative distributions are listed below:

Grade Level Percentage of Distribution
K-12th Grade 80%
Community Colleges 13.9%
California State University System 3.7%
University of California 2.3%
Other Educational Entities 0.1%

How Lottery Money Gets to Schools

Once a quarter, the Lottery sends a letter to the State Controller’s Office (SCO) detailing the funds available for transfer to the Education Fund. The SCO audits the Lottery funding to be transferred to the Education Fund and determines how much money each county Office of Education or school district is allowed based on the average daily attendance data provided by the State Department of Education and California Community Colleges. The SCO sends quarterly remittance advices to each County Treasurer upon issuance of the warrants notifying them of the Lottery Funds distributed to their respective school districts. Individual County Offices of Education, School Districts and administrators of higher education determine how Lottery funds are distributed and spent within their systems. The Lottery is not involved in this decision-making process.

Some districts, especially smaller school districts and higher education, have used funds for computer labs, teacher workshops and science programs, as well as art and music programs.

We’re doing the legwork for you! Our video team is visiting public school campuses up and down the state to track specific and unique examples of Lottery funding at work. The key reason many administrators tell us they appreciate this type of funding is that it allows for so much LOCAL control. They know what their students need and they can use Lottery funding to directly target those issues. We continue to be amazed by the different ways Lottery money is being used to help our students. View these examples for yourself on our . You can feel proud of the role you play in supporting public education in our state.