How and why schools raise funds in Chicago

One of the biggest and most important causes that most of us have participated at must be raising funds for local schools. We all have bought chocolate and candy bars from children, or have walked with them door-to-door to offer some product that will, by all means, have an impact on students development in our community. This activity of raising funds for our children aims to reduce the budget gap between what schools need to support the programs they want and what they really have available to do so.

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Image courtesy of Andy Blackledge at Flickr.com

Whether you buy a candy bar, a coupon book or cookies, you are supporting school children who need to buy uniforms for a contest, the chance to participate at a cheerleading event or the required transportation to go somewhere else and participate in an event. Probably you are not going to buy all candy bars yourself to support your children, you will talk to your co-workers and people at your office who will also support the school cause.

In the United States, 94% of public schools depend on fundraising to cover up for the money they lack to pay for all the programs they offer or to do all the things they want to in order to guarantee children are getting the proper education at the finest environment. Chicago Public Schools are not the exception to this rule. With approximately a $1.1 billion budget deficit to cover the needs of the city’s public schools system, the wind city actually relies on fundraising and generous donations to cover up for the lacking funds. This hole in the available budget for school activities affects children from elementary school to high school who want to have access to special education, music, cheerleading and sports.

Even though the fundraising industry receives over $1.4 billion that exclusively go to finance nonprofit activities, this money sometimes is not enough or the activities that take place to raise it are not creative enough to sell the cause they intend to support. In this article, Yosef Meystel aims to show people how they can support budget deficits at Chicago Public Schools, by being an active part of innovative initiatives to raise funds to cover public schools forced cutbacks in Chicago.

Related: Big Shoulders Fund: supporting education since 1986

Creative ways to raise funds for public schools in Chicago

First, you need to think out of the box if you want to have a significant and different impact on the way funds are being raised for schools this year -or any given year. Selling candy bars works, but it mainly serves the bigger industry that produces them and here we want to do a charitable thing (raising fund for schools in Chicago) while we also support local businesses that want to share their profits with children in their community. Some great examples of this generous organizations are listed below:

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Image courtesy of State Farm at Flickr.com

Bridgeport Coffee: Most adults start their days with a cup of coffee and Bridgeport Coffee know this. By offering a Fair Trade and Organic coffee, the company gives school children the chance to sell a 12 oz pack at $12 and earn $5 from it. This way schools can keep the profits not only for a season but during the entire year. The way it works is that schools set up a coffee club, where members receive weekly or monthly coffee from Bridgeport Coffee at $12 dollars per bag. Along the year, the school will receive a stream of earnings for the coffee. Bridgeport even commits to labeling the bag with the school information.

Chicago Cubs: For this sports club, supporting their children is a big deal. For this reason, the Chicago Cubs offer a cheap ticket to schools for listed dates (sometimes just $5 dollars per ticket), so  schools can list them online (through the Chicago Cubs website) and sell them at the suggested price, receiving all profits. Earnings will be given straight to the school which bought the tickets in first place.

Itzy Ritzy: This mom-run business has won several awards in the Chicago Region. The company offers healthy snack bags and travel happens bags that can be sold by schools to raise funds. Itzy Ritzy gives a 40% discount to schools on the retail price, this way they can earn this 40% to support any school cause. The company’s website can be used to place orders at specific places, helping schools with the logistics. Bags can also be customized with the school logo or name.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center: Legoland has a School Fundraising program that allows parents to sell tickets from the LEGOLAND Discovery Center located in Schaumburg, and give part of the profit to a given school. This tickets sold by parents can be used in a six-month period and offer the possibility of doing multiple sales that may increase the profits received by the school.

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