Bringing computers into the school and sending computers out the door can take money. Over the last several years, we have come up with a few ways to raise money to fund our efforts:
T-shirt sales Each year, the Penguin Corps creates a design for the new club t-shirt and the kids vote on what color the shirt will be. We get a quote from a local screen printer so we will know what our costs will be. Then we take orders from club members, other students, staff, and school families. Students buy t-shirts at cost (about $10.00) and adults pay $20.00. Some people will donate money without buying a shirt to help cover the cost of Penguin Corps members who cannot afford a shirt. The whole thing turns a profit.
Other branded merchandise Just as people have wanted to have our logo on a t-shirt, we found they were happy to have our logo on other things. Since my wife and I own a sublimation printer, a mug press, and a Cricut Easy Press, we decided to have the Penguin Corps experiment with things we could buy blank in relatively small quantities and do the printing and pressing ourselves. We started with Penguin Corps coffee mugs, and these proved to be such a smash hit, we added Penguin Corps mouse pads.
Selling snacks at school special events At each school special event, the Asian Penguins had a snack table to sell Hot Cheetos (very popular with the kids at that school), candy, and juice pouches. Please note: these were done outside of normal school hours in order to comply with Federal Smart Snacks rules.
Grants Both the Asian Penguins and the Penguin Corps applied for and received grants. The Penguin Corps received a Title IV Grant from the Minnesota Department of Education, while the Asian Penguins received grants from Free Geek Twin Cities, the Linux Foundation, Linux Academy, The Bigelow Foundation, The H.B. Fuller Foundation, and a few other organizations. While some grants are very specific about their purpose and application process, they are still worth investigating.
Crowdfunding To get laptops for the middle school, the Asian Penguins launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com complete with our own video. We then publicized the Indiegogo page as much as we could, inviting people to click on the link and make a donation. In the end, we raised $4,800 ($300.00 over our goal). We also received a donation of laptop computers during the campaign. In the end, we were able to get 60 laptops for the school. Here is our crowdfunding page: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cse-asian-penguins-seek-to-replace-laptops#/
Pennies for Penguins This was a special fundraiser to get money for laptops for our sister school in Thailand. We placed a jar on the desk of each teacher in the building, and students were asked to bring change from home to put in their teachers’ jar. We made a contest out of it in which the elementary and middle school classes that raised the most money would win a popcorn party.
Civic organizations Your community likely has several civic clubs and professional organizations that want to help kids. Check with your town's local chapters of the Rotary Club, Lions Club, VFW, Knights of Columbus, and other groups.
Donations from individuals Some people have simply wanted to help by giving us a gift of money.
All of these have been helpful, and will likely continue to be!
© 2017 Stuart Keroff. All rights reserved.