New website Schoola.com offers innovative way to raise funds for schools

Courtesy PhotoSan Francisco-based Schoola.com offers group coupons that schools can use to raise funds in lieu of direct sales of items that parents may not want to buy.

Tired of purchasing gift wrap, candy or popcorn that would just sit in a closet somewhere, Stacey Boyd thought there must be an easier way to raise money for her children’s schools.

Like many modern entrepreneurs, she found the solution online. Boyd founded the San Francisco-based Schoola.com, a one-stop location for parents, teachers and community members to partner with businesses and give proceeds to schools anywhere in the country.

“It’s really a way to help schools fill the pretty devastating gap we’ve seen in funding over the past four years,” Boyd said.

“It’s a self-service platform that allows the PTA in schools to partner with local businesses, with a good portion going back to the school.”

Here’s how it works: Anyone associated with a school can create a deal on the website, much like Groupon, where something is purchased from a local business, such as $20 worth of goods at a bakery for $10, according to Marybeth Grass, media coordinator with Pitch Public Relations, which represents Schoola. Then, 30 percent of proceeds go to the school.

This way, Boyd said, people can purchase items they want while supporting schools.

“I have a cupboard full of popcorn,” Boyd said. “I don’t need anymore. But I started thinking there must be a more efficient way, and we get something we really want to buy.”

The site launched in September. Boyd said that since then, one in 10 schools across the country have set up fundraising pages.

Though she would not disclose the total amount of money raised or the exact number of schools that have participated, Boyd said the efforts are helping schools nationwide.

In California alone, schools are operating with roughly $18 billion less than they were four years ago. Nationally, K-12 education has experienced similar funding cuts.

Boyd is hoping Schoola can help make up some of the financial loss. But spreading the word about these deals and raising money online is up to the parents or organizations creating the deals. Information can be sent to a school’s mailing list or a note can be sent home with students to alert parents of the fundraising effort.

“It all depends on the school,” Boyd said. “But getting the word out is part of your responsibility as a member of the school, just like any other fundraising.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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