Cascade School Supplies on Brown Street has jumped aboard a program to help businesses help public schools.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Cascade School Supplies will donate 1 percent of its total net profit to five different school districts this year.
Todd Shafer, vice president of Cascade School Supplies, has been promoting the 1 Percent for Public Schools program and how it benefits schools and businesses.
"It's a win-win for everybody and is such a great idea," Shafer said.
Businesses who participate donate 1 percent of their net profit to the school district or districts of their choice. The schools can then purchase supplies, and the company can advertise with the 1 Percent logo. Cascade was the first business to join the project.
"You get this great marketing tool for your money, and it just makes perfect sense for Cascade School Supplies because we do business with public schools," Shafer said. "Here is a way we can give back and in addition, we can build our business because our customer base can see that we are giving back to public schools."
Shafer said that the 1 Percent logo allows business to partake in "cause marketing." With the program's logo on products, buyers know they are purchasing something connected to a cause. Shafer said studies show that people are more likely to purchase products affiliated with a cause and will spend more money if it is a cause they support.
Cascades donated to five school districts that do a lot of business with the company. This included North Adams Public School District — Brayton Elementary teacher Erica Manville used the $524 donation for art supplies — and school districts in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere in Massachusetts.
"We modeled ourselves after 1 Percent for the Planet, which has raised over 100 million dollars in the past 10 years," said 1 Percent's President Steven Boyd in an email announcing the project. "We believe that we will be able to exceed that since education is in the forefront of everyone's minds more so than the environment."
With schools suffering throughout the country because of lack of funding, Shafer sees this program as incredibly helpful.
"1 Percent for Public Schools thinks that because school is on the forefront of people's minds they're going to be as big as or bigger than 1 Percent for the Planet," he said. "Imagine another $120 million going back into public schools."
That funding could help support struggling school districts and could save teachers or programs from being cut. One Percent's model focuses on using funding effectively by assuring it is accounted for through the use of learning materials requested by teachers rather than getting "lost in the bureaucracy of public schools."
It won't be used for salaries — just for materials and equipment. Donors can also request that 80 percent of their donation be used at specific schools, or 1 Percent will pick the schools and notify donors as to how the money was used.
"Teachers are spending more and more of their own money out of their own pockets every year because they are getting less and less, and on top of that, the students are having to bring in more supplies," Shafer said.
The 80-year-old Cascade was the first company to sign up for the California-based program and Shafer has been busy promoting it.
"I believe in this a lot and am really trying to be behind this to promote it," he said. "Public schools are going to get more money, and we hope that other business will join in."
Schafer explained that the program is flexible and larger companies can chose a specific items to put the logo on.
"A large company making billions of dollars who doesn't want to earmark a full 1 percent can pick a product line and just donate that way," he said.
Although the program is national, it is focused on local establishments and he would love to see local businesses get involved and benefit from cause marketing.
"Imagine if four or five businesses in North Adams decide to get involved and it amounts to $10,000 to $20,000 for local public schools," Shafer said. "If you are a small business the investment is very little, and … the return investment could be huge."
He also urged the schools to get involved and have meetings with businesses to encourage them to support the program.
Cascade is not new to supporting education. For the past two years, it has donated $1,000 worth of supplies to the Drury High School art program so students could create artwork that has been placed on its Brown Street building. It has also donated money to the ROPES Camp program and the Fall Foliage Parade.