Dallas, TX – Some Carrollton-Farmers Branch elementary students are in the "greeting card" business this year. KERA's BJ Austin says it's a money-making idea from the district's Educational Foundation - which is working to help fill the gap left by state budget cuts.
Third, fourth and fifth graders in more than a dozen Carrollton Farmers Branch elementary schools are drawing greeting cards this year. These fifth graders at Country Place Elementary are already working on Valentine's Day - coming up with heart-themed artwork. The holiday cards - already online for sale - are bold, colorful Christmas trees, snowmen, and even a puppy. The winning pictures chosen by a panel of local civic leaders become seasonal or all occasion cards for sale online. The proceeds go to the non-profit Carrollton-Farmers Branch Educational Foundation.
Steve Edwards is the director.
Edwards: With the great need within our district, 70% of our students are considered economically disadvantaged, and with the state budget cuts we're facing a lot of challenges. And so, we were looking at out-of-the-box type of business models where we could raise year-round dollars.
Edwards says they hold an annual gala, and an occasional small fundraiser. But a consistent revenue stream would boost the number of college scholarships available, as well as teacher grants for classroom programs; and for things like new library materials.
In the first week, they made $1500 dollars - mostly from family and friends. But Edwards has high hopes that local "businesses" may opt for the C-FB Kids Cards, too. That could mean larger orders and significant revenue.
Edwards: Our goal the first year is 100 thousand dollars. That's over a 12 month period. It's an aggressive goal but we think that it can be met if our communities get behind this. We're doing a lot of marketing within our school district, within our business communities.
Owen DeWitt, on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Educational Foundation Board says that 100 thousand dollars could do a lot of good.
DeWitt: Probably this year we'll get in excess of 750 applicants for scholarships and we would be lucky to fund 10% of that. Teacher grants, we'll probably get several hundred of the requests and maybe only be able to fund 50 or 60 of them.
This year, the Carrollton Farmers Branch School District expects to get about 10 million dollars less in state funding; 20 million less next year. Administrators and teachers are relying on the Foundation to help continue to provide for some of the unique needs and save valuable classroom programs.
One of those is the "Yearbook" program at Country Place Elementary. Art teacher Theresa Hardy is in charge of it. Kids were using her old camera, which she says worked only half the time. Last year, she got a Foundation grant for five digital cameras. This year more Yearbook students are taking pictures and learning Photoshop - upgrading their technology skills.
Hardy is also supervising their greeting card artwork.
Hardy: To be able to have a possibility of the artwork being produced and people buying it and giving it as cards, they are super-excited.
More than 80 Texas educational foundations are registered with the National Educational Foundation Association. Steve Edwards says, to his knowledge, Carrollton Farmers Branch is the first to go into the greeting card business.
Related Link: cfbkidscards.com