Building a strong community is a team effort. Families need to participate, businesses need to participate, schools, churches and community centers all need to participate. As the saying goes, many hands make light work.
This is also true in community building. There are three shining examples of such community builder’s right here in Southern California: Diana Williams of the West Valley~Warner Center Chamber of Commerce, Frank Volpe of Daily Donor, and Realtor, Edward Kim. They are all working hard to make their community a better place by helping raise funds and support for local schools.
CEO of the West Valley~Warner Center Chamber of Commerce, Diana Williams, has launched many community programs two of which are youth support programs: “Adopt-A-School” and “Get Empowered. Get Employed.” Adopt-A-School is a program where the Chamber of Commerce facilitates the connection of their business members who want to support a local school and donate $500-the school chooses how to use the funds.
As Williams explains, “There is no denying that schools need funding [for everything] from paper to pencils to…hopefully being able to keep art and music programs alive. It won’t happen without community involvement.” Her department is working hard to make the process as smooth and effortless as possible. Their other youth program is aimed directly at the students themselves, but supported by the chamber’s businesses.
As Williams says of Get Empowered, Get Employed, “We want to empower our youth to be good with their interview skills and have excellent resumes to present.” She says the program teaches kids that, “You can be you and you can find a job.” Williams says that the program also teaches two key areas when looking for employment: “…social media and branding. We teach kids that who you are is great, no one wants you to change, but [there] are going to be certain jobs [you are attracted to]. For example, if you have tattoos and you have piercings then you might want to seek out a job in a coffee shop rather than a doctor’s office.”
Her program is not trying to limit the youth seeking employment, but educate them on how their choices and actions are perceived by others. The program teaches students that branding is something not only companies do, but individuals as well.
While the West Valley Woodland Hills Chamber of Commerce is providing support to the schools and students, Frank Volpe is focusing on helping schools and teachers. He says his reason for creating the iOS app, “Daily Donor,” was because he and his partner kept seeing teachers having to pay for necessary school supplies on their own. “I just thought that was stupid in today’s age, for them to be putting their hands into their own pockets,” Volpe says.
“With technology, there are ways of getting closer to the community and the community helping [the teachers] out.” His app, which is soon going beta in the Woodland Hills Calabasas area, allows teachers to start a fundraising campaign where businesses, parents, and other members of the community can quickly contribute. Volpe says a portion of the donation will go to the school, but the vast majority goes directly to the teacher. This allows parents to contribute directly to their student’s classroom. “It’s a win-win,” Volpe says, since “the businesses can show they are doing social good, and also drive traffic into their business. For the teachers, it is an easy and time efficient way of raising funds.”
Another business and person that is making a difference for schools is Edward Kim, a realtor at Vista Sotheby’s International Realty. The way in which Kim found he could raise funds for his local schools was by partnering with Community Funding Solutions, a company that offers a program that links schools, realtors and prospective buyers, with the incentive to the school that the realtor will donate 20% of their commission to them. Which is exactly what Kim has done… twice in fact, through two real estate transactions.
Kim said, “I really saw the development and the pure benefit it would provide to the schools, and ultimately to my kids and the other kids. It was a no brainer.” Kim has donated several thousand dollars to two schools already. The couple he sold a house to learned of his pledge to donate money to schools in the local community [if they used him as a realtor] which made them decide to work with him as their realtor. When Kim knew he wanted to make a difference in his community, he recalls thinking, “How can I make a difference, how can I shine in this type of situation and become someone who can stand out and provide funds for our schools?”
Certainly, he has succeeded with participating in the Community Funding Solutions program. Making a difference in our communities, and in our schools, is a responsibility we all carry. These three businesses have found a way to use their skills and influence to serve others.
Their contributions will benefit schools in many ways. What these three examples also show is that there are a number of ways to contribute as a business owner. If you want to provide help directly to the students, you can do that. If you want to send help directly to the teachers, you can do that too. Through small commitments today, these community builders are creating far greater futures, not just for their own communities, but for every community those students in turn affect. For more information regarding these organizations visit: http://www.woodlandhillscc.net/, https://dailydonor.com/, http://communityfundingsolutions.com/pages/agent_profile/79.
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