Deal site for schools makes fundraising easy

March 19, 2013 7:51:49 PM PDT
In an age of cell phones and Facebook, the old-fashioned school bake sale is still a staple. But amid tightening education budgets, one San Francisco mom decided cupcakes weren't enough to make up the difference.

Stacey Boyd founded a company called Schoola. It's been described as Groupon, but for school fundraising. Businesses, including summer camps, can use Schoola's web site to offer special deals. In exchange, the businesses give a portion of their profits to a local school.

"Parents are choosing summer camps for their children to attend and are paying for them anyhow, so why not do it in a way that allows you to raise money additionally for your school," said Boyd, who is also Schoola's CEO.

"We'll help pay for things like books in our library, to support our arts program, to make sure that we have supplies in our classroom, even just keeping our Xerox machines running," said Cece Kaufman, a PTA mom at Sherman Elementary in San Francisco.

Sherman Elementary is the latest school to sign up and the first to partner entirely with summer camps, including Chris Babcock's art camp. Though Babcock spends a lot of money on paint and markers, she has no budget for advertising.

"I can't afford, being a little art teacher, to send the word out to all the little kids in the city who love art. So this is a great way to do it. School by school, everybody gets to raise money for their school -- and they get to hear about the most fabulous art lessons in the city," Babcock said.

Although Schoola is based in San Francisco, a lot of its earliest adopters are actually outside the Bay Area. In fact, the company says one in 10 schools nationwide has a fundraising page on Schoola.

The company would like to think it's because it was an idea that was just long overdue. "It's sort of stunning to me that Schoola was the first one to come up with the idea. It's definitely an idea whose time has come," Boyd said.

Sherman's PTA says it's already a third of the way to reaching its fundraising goal -- and Schoola's a big reason for that.

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