A Message from MDC
Equal Exchange is an organization that is dedicated to supporting fair trade and organic farmering. They began by supporting farmers who utilized organic food systems and empowered them with new means with which to distribute their product. One of the many ways they do this is through supplying their quality products to schools and businesses as product for fundraising. Below is story of a teacher who worked to bring in these products to raise funds for a 7th grade science camp for her class.
To learn more of how you can do something similar for your child's school go to http://www.equalexchange.coop/equal-exchange-fundraising
A Story from Our Sponsor
|A Fierce Fundraiser: Kim Montgomery|
|By Ashley Symons, Marketing Writer, and Ruthie Oland, Fundraising Program
Kim Montgomery is a seventh grade teacher in Houston, Texas, with 20 years teaching experience under her belt. She's also in charge of the seventh grade fundraiser, which ensures that all students can participate in the annual seventh grade science-focused camping trip.
The kids anticipate the camping trip all year long. Even elementary students have heard about it and look forward to their chance to participate. For some of the kids, it's a welcomed chance to get out of the city. "Many of our kids will never leave the Houston area," Montgomery said. "Few of them have spent time in the country experiencing nature. Houston is horrible about urban sprawl, so it's important to us to get our kids out of the city. Most of the activities have to do with problem solving and team building."
And it's important that every student has the opportunity to participate in the camping trip, which is why the fundraising program is key; the school's profits from the fundraiser allow students to receive partial or full scholarships to attend the annual camping trip.
The students traditionally sold cookie dough to the community as their fundraiser, but Montgomery started to question who actually benefited from that fundraiser. She wondered if others were being exploited at their expense. After seeing the movie "Black Gold," she started thinking a lot about Fair Trade as an alternative trade model. She researched Fair Trade fundraisers on the internet and came across Equal Exchange's Fundraising Program. Montgomery was impressed with Equal Exchange's innovative history in the Fair Trade movement. She decided to try it. First she had to convince others in the community.
"Initially, there are always people who are reticent to change, but after they are educated on the quality of product and the equal benefit to all participants of the process, they are usually proponents of the fundraiser," Montgomery said. And so they kicked off the Equal Exchange fundraiser - and became a top fundraising group in their first year.
She visited the Equal Exchange offices in the summer of 2007 – just to be sure she'd made the right choice. "I want to believe in a product I'm asking others to sell," she explained.
After the visit, she was confident the Equal Exchange fundraiser was the best fit for her school. They have now participated two years in a row, and it's hugely successful. "I don't think I could do another fundraiser," Montgomery said. "The Equal Exchange fundraiser has great products and a good mission."
Montgomery teaches at an international school, and their mission statement challenges teachers to include a curriculum which will develop international awareness. "This includes a focus on international relations and international problem-solving to create a love of learning and emphasize good citizenship," she said.
The fundraiser provides an added opportunity for Montgomery to talk with her students about the world economy and what's fair – and not fair. "We like the idea of students being aware of the economics of marketing," Montgomery said. "We want them to understand that everyone wants and needs to make a profit, but how can that be done fairly and not at the expense of another?"
The kids are learning while fundraising – and raising more money. "Although our profit percentage is less, we have been able to earn more through a longer, harder promotion. [After two years of participating], staff and community are becoming aware of the social issues - as well as the quality products."
And best of all, each seventh grader is able to share in the fun of the annual camping trip.