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Helping Schools One “T” at a Time with Business Voices

Over the years, the BNI Foundation has done amazing things to support children’s educational organizations – schools, community projects and other educational organizations. Since starting our charitable focus over 17 years ago, the BNI Foundation has contributed over $3 million to non-profit, charitable organizations like Junior Achievement (Young Enterprise), Boys and Girls Clubs, Claremont Educational Foundation, Flat Rock Elementary, Super Stars Literacy, Tareto Maa – Kenya, Little Rock Orphanage and School – Kenya, and Building Blocks – India, among many, many others.

And yet the work we have been doing behind the scenes has largely stayed there: behind the scenes. And that’s not a good thing!

Our burning desire in the BNI Foundation is that local business owners – you as BNI members and leaders in your own business communities – will stand up to answer the many cries for help from educators and organizers of educational organizations and respond with a flow of resources to help meet their needs.

These resources include three things: time, talent and treasure or T3. For far too long, our work has been centered exclusively on generating donations, so that we can make mini-grants at the corporate level. We realize now that this is not enough. While raising money and finding worthy recipients for our grants is important and will continue to be part of the T3 equation in the BNI Foundation, inspiring members to reach in and help out locally is just as important.

This is where our Business Voices movement comes into this equation.

The more we can share with you about the ways local chapters have used their networking prowess to be referred to a school principal, taken a referral partner into a meeting with that principal and learned about the school’s needs – AND THEN HELPED THE SCHOOL WITH THOSE NEEDS, the more we feel you will become excited and eager to duplicate these Noble Networking efforts in your own communities.

One school principal expressed a need for marketing materials so they can compete with the charter schools in their area for student enrollment. It was no problem at all for the chapter to jump in and get on that.

Another principal shared that campus beautification was sorely needed (think grounds cleanup, planting, landscaping), and a work party is in progress at this time to address this need.

Still another principal let us know they do not have enough chairs in their library for the book buddies to be able to sit together, so the older student can read to the younger student. Members plan to work together to “adopt” the chairs and fulfill this need.

The needs are real, and the business community is creative. We know that by working together we can provide the support schools and other educational organizations need. After I shared our Business Voices movement a couple of days ago with a Skype audience in Ireland, one of the audience members summed it up succinctly: “We know what needs to be done. You’ve provided the trigger for us to just get on with it now.”

Yes, that’s right. We do know what needs to be done, but all too often we wait for someone else to do it – someone whose job it is to do it. And yet with the issues facing educators and schools, everything is tangled up in paralyzing, mind-numbing bureaucracy. We know THAT needs to be fixed – and in the meantime, the schools are suffering, the kids are suffering and our whole community is suffering.

Business Voices gives teachers a voice, it gives kids a voice and it gives the business community a voice. We cannot afford to wait for the “powers that be” to get things together in a way that is meaningful. Maybe government does have solutions – we’ve heard some creative and innovative solutions proposed and implemented with great success, AND we’ve heard and seen some crazy stuff. But most of those solutions simply take so long that the youth get farther and farther behind.

Our businesses need a well-educated work force. And we have many resources (remember T3?) to be sure we have it.

Here’s my call to action for you: Watch the 90-second video below, then go find a school, and ask them, “How can I help you?” Please share the results with us, so you can be recognized along with the many others who are joining our movement on a daily basis.

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