Companies to Classrooms links communities and schools by reusing business surplus as supplies for local classrooms. We collect donated reusable materials from businesses at our 8000 square foot warehouse in Bloomington, MN. Using volunteers, we sort, clean and repair items received and then stock our store area at the front of the warehouse. Teachers then visit our store and, for little or no cost, select supplies to enhance their classroom curriculum and to distribute to their students-in-need. We inventory hundreds of items including all basic school and office supplies along with tables, chairs and other small business furniture. Since our opening in March of 2006, we have distributed over $3,000,000 worth of product into local schools. That includes over 143,781 pencils to students in our community. That's a lot of learning!
Free-and-reduced-lunch students struggle to acquire even the basic supplies that are necessary for learning. Typically the concentration of these students is thought to be in the inner city but more and more suburban poverty is becoming an increasing reality. As school budgets have become tighter, teachers reach into their own pockets to fill in the gaps; on average, spending $1000 or more per year to supplement their classroom needs and help students with supplies.
On the other hand, businesses constantly need to dispose of excess supplies and inventories due to changes in an ever-increasingly competitive business environment. Studies have shown that corporate waste totals over 300,000 tons annually; 90% of which is reusable. It is simply not cost-effective to find a secondary user so usable waste continues to clog our landfills year after year. When given a viable option, businesses are very willing to support education by recycling excess product through Companies to Classrooms.
Companies to Classrooms is a WIN-WIN solution for any community:
1. Free-and-reduced-lunch students are equipped with school supplies at no cost to them, the teacher or the school.
2. Additional supplies are made available to our schools without increasing taxes or educational funding.
3. Local businesses have an easy way to support education in their community by recycling their reusable waste.
4. Tons of reusable product are kept out of landfills.
What new functionality we are looking for
1) Companies to Classrooms serves multiple groups--Teachers, Businesses, Sponsors/Donors & Volunteers. We need a website structure that allows us to provide the appropriate messages to each of these visitors.
A) For Teachers: We want them to better understand how the Companies to Classrooms store serves them and what kinds of supplies, products, tools and resources are available to benefit the students in their classrooms. Plus at some point in the future we might need to schedule shopping trips. It would be nice to be able to do this through the website.
B) For Businesses: We want to create more awareness of this service and how it benefits education in the communities where they operate. We need a clear message about how they can donate their surplus; keeping reusable products out of landfills and possibly realizing a tax benefit. We also want businesses to be aware of the sponsorship opportunities we offer and how they can support us financially. Again we might want to schedule and pay for pick up services over the website if possible.
C) For Sponsors/Donors: Our contributors are from all over. We want our website to be able to allow people to make donations effortlessly.
D) For Volunteers: Be able to fill out and send in volunteer forms and possibly do scheduling on line.
2)We use our Facebook and Twitter accounts to update teachers on what is in the store, but that visibility is quite limited. We would love to have a website that would be more interactive with teachers. We could show current inventory, fun project ideas and more. We also want to keep a current "Report Card" that shows number of teachers shopping, pencils distributed, children served, etc.
3) We would like to more visually promote our services. We have wonderful photos, videos, testimonials and great quotes from our teachers that we would like to share with our website visitors. It is important to highlight these stories as well as help our website visitors understand how all these supplies translate into real impact in the classrooms in our community. In addition, we want to recognize the people who volunteer with us and companies that donate.
4) We would like to better present our news coverage. A new website could help us generate more coverage of Companies to Classrooms in the local media.
How the new functionality will help
Critical to the Companies to Classrooms mission is the need to educate our community about what we have to offer. An updated website can help us communicate more efficiently with school boards and other local officials, parent/teacher associations, teachers, donors and companies wanting to donate surplus or make a financial donation. We have not updated our website since its creation in 2006. It is extremely limited in its ability to interact with our visitors. A website is one of the strongest marketing tools that everyone can access to learn more about an organization. We want to communicate our mission to others the best way that we can and with a louder voice. An upgraded website would do wonders.
How our organization will use the technology
Who will use the technology
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