Maximize Employee Engagement _2019_Blog

Maximizing Employee Engagement to Support Local Schools

We launched our School Program because individual and business donors wanted to provide more meaningful support to classrooms and schools in need. Our experience working with business donors to fundraise highlights how employee engagement can lead to real impact in the classroom.

Some of our business donors have offered their employees a variety of ways to contribute to their philanthropic efforts throughout the year, including volunteer opportunities, employee-driven fundraisers like a chili cook-off, and company-driven fundraisers. When we explore objectives and fundraising goals with our partners, we sometimes find that matching them with a local school, rather than an individual classroom, is the best way for them to have the impact they desire.

principal in front of the banaadir sign
Director of Banaadir Academy, Shawn Fondow, stands next to a wall painted by donors as part of a company employee engagement event at the school.

One benefit of engaging at the school-wide level is that you can reach many more people than you can at the classroom level. This broader reach allows for a deeper, more meaningful relationship with the school, and engaging  team-building opportunities for employees. Everyone can be involved, working together to move the needle and make a difference. can provide custom fundraising pages for your employees, and connect them with schools in their local community. For example, we connected one local business donor to two schools in their community, Banaadir Academy and Whittier International Elementary. This partnership raised more than $30,000 that was shared with the schools, giving them access to classroom materials and services they otherwise could not afford. 

One major benefit to school administrators who use the School Program is the ability to select the items their school needs, when they need them. At Whittier Elementary, the School Program allowed their team to access a variety of school materials, from notepads to a new classroom desk.

document camera in a classroom
Document cameras like this one are highly desired by schools to enhance classroom learning, but rarely can they afford to purchase them without outside help.

“The donation helped me be responsive to the needs of the teachers, so that they can be responsive to the needs of their students,” said Laurie Lamberty, principal of Whittier Elementary. “It has allowed us to purchase items that are not necessarily part of the ‘traditional’ ordering process. For example, I was meeting with a few kindergarten teachers who are working on social emotional interventions for a few of their students, and they needed a variety of timers to do this. Because I have access to the funds, I could order and receive them within two days. The new materials made an immediate difference in our teachers’ ability to accelerate student learning.”

In addition to the funds they donated to each school, our donors occasionally perform meaningful acts of service, including donating office furniture, painting the teachers’ lounge, and providing breakfast for school staff. These volunteer activities were particularly meaningful for the staff at Banaadir Academy.

“ donors have been great to work with, “ said Shawn Fondow, director of elementary programs for Banaadir Academy. “Some schools have an active Parent-Teacher Association who can pitch in for a meal for their teachers. We are working with parents who don’t have the extra resources like the time or money to do that. The donation made a difference, but so did taking time to appreciate our staff with a meal and updates to our teachers’ lounge. It’s a big deal to us because that doesn’t happen here.”

One of the big purchases Banaadir Academy made with the funds they received were document cameras for each classroom so teachers can share worksheets with the entire class in real-time. They also purchased a laminator that benefits every teacher and student.

teacher in front of lockers
Banaadir Academy Teacher Alisha was one of more than a dozen teachers who benefited from the School Program donation at her school.

“I use the classroom camera multiple times per day,” said Alisha, a teacher at Banaadir. “I use it for math to show my students exactly what I want them to do as I’m doing it. The laminator has saved teachers a lot of money and time to be able to laminate at school. It saves us on paper and other resources.”

Teachers are still spending an average of $740 out of pocket per year on school supplies, and extra classroom funding is desperately needed for schools across the nation. However, school staff and teachers said the partnership with donors represented something as essential as money: respect.

“It’s nice knowing that they want to help teachers and we’re on their radar,” Alisha said. “They care about getting students what they need to learn. We’re all very thankful for what they donated.”

“Donors of came and recognized the work we’re doing for the community,” said Shawn. “As an educator, it’s validating to have other professionals show that your work is important with their time and money.”


If you would like to partner to fund a school in your community, contact us at [email protected].

Schools administrators can register their school for the School Program here.