November 11, 2002
Community partnership is a 'win-win' situation
by Deborah Stone
All across the state, academic standards and expectations are rising, yet financial resources to support public education are decreasing. The possibility of further budget cuts always looms in the not-too-distant future.
School districts are forced to take the responsibility of finding creative new ways to generate revenue in order to continue providing high quality education.
For the past few years, the Northshore School District and Northshore PTA have been looking at forming partnerships with community businesses in order to fill the funding gaps.
'We sent about 140 letters to Fortune 500 companies," explains Jan Graves, Northshore's Manager for Community and Business Partnerships, "to see if any one of them would be interested in forming a fundraising partnership with the district. We received a number of replies that warranted follow-up and over the past year or so we pursued several leads."
In this discovery process, the district learned that Albertson's was not a newcomer to this type of partnership.
For the past several years, the company had been offering community partnerships to any nonprofit organization that benefited and supported children or education.
Last year, in fact, it gave over $14 million to communities nationwide through its Community Partners Card program, a program that allows Albertson's to contribute up to five percent of eligible purchases at its stores to registered agencies.
"We thought it would be practical to go with an existing program, especially one that has much success," comments Graves.
"We want partnerships with companies that are sincerely concerned with enhancing education for children and Albertson's meets this requirement fully.
"But what is most exciting about this partnership is that for one year, between now and December 2003, Albertson's has agreed to lift the ceiling on the amount it contributes so the sky's the limit."
Normally, the program stipulates a maximum contribution of $1,800 to a school per quarter, but for Northshore, the lid has been lifted. Northshore is the only district in the country with this "lidless" partnership and Albertson's is viewing the situation as a pilot program, with the possibility of extending it elsewhere in the future.
Funds generated through the program will go to the schools and to the Northshore Public Education Foundation.
For the schools, money will be spent on books, classroom materials, field trips, supplies to support teachers and tutors, teacher training and development and supplementary curriculum materials for specialized programs.
The Foundation will use the income to help fund district-wide literacy programs, such as "Swing Shift" and "Literacy Link," both of which provide additional learning opportunities outside the school day to those who need more individualized assistance in reading and language.
Community Partners Cards are available to the public to use when they shop at any Albertson's across the nation, although there are five local stores that serve directly as the program's support team for the district (Woodinville, Canyon Park, Juanita, Lake Forest Park and Mountlake Terrace).
The cards are designated with the names of specific schools in the district and have bar codes identifying the name of the school for tracking purchase totals and distributing contributions.
Cards are also designated with "Northshore Public Education Foundation," as the foundation is also a recipient.
"This is a win-win situation for everyone involved," says Graves. "Everyone benefits."
Anyone can participate in this program and cards can be obtained at any of the schools in the district or by calling (425) 489-6309.