By Hannah Gray
These days consumers want more out of their shopping experience. With companies like TOMS and Warby Parker setting the charitable precedent, today’s retailers are almost expected to be philanthropically involved in communities both local and worldwide. San Franciso-based company Schoola adapted these expectations and directed their efforts towards school-aged children. Essentially a massive online marketplace, Schoola retails both gently used and brand new clothing on its site, donating 40 percent of each item’s sale to the school it was donated on behalf of, the Malala Fund (yes, that Malala, the one who literally took a bullet to stand up for the right to education) or the general donation pool. Through a nationwide call to action, Schoola helps to provide schools with the funding they desperately need.
Stacey Boyd, a former school principal, teacher and mom, founded the initiative in 2012. Due to her professional experience she had fierce firsthand knowledge of the educational system’s deficiencies and needs. But perhaps the most glaring piece of information she observed was the lack of funding dedicated to the humanities. When times got tough and funds got low, music, art and foreign language were the first casualties. As Schoola director of marketing Megan Walsh asserts, “It’s really something we strongly believe that extracurriculars aren’t really extra.” And they’re right. Studies have shown how playing music helps to hone math skills and the playground promotes problem solving.
Schoola works to combat the increasingly common phenomenon of disappearing art, music and language courses. By requesting a postage-paid donation bag, anyone — parent or not — may donate their gently used women’s and children’s clothing. Entire schools may also get in on the action by hosting clothing drives. The profits earned from those drives are directly funneled back into the host school to be used at their own discretion, a few of which are even “paying some of teachers’ salaries using the funds from Schoola.” Here in the metro Atlanta area alone, there are 530 schools that benefit because of the program. Without Schoola’s help, some of your own kids or neighbors might not have pencils or music class. Seriously.
But at its core, Schoola is a team player. Collaborations with corporations, social activists, common citizens and high-end brands fuel the cause. most notably, the Malala Fund. The relationship came about when founder Stacey “actually had the opportunity to meet with Malala and listen to her story one on one. The two ended up really hitting it off because they have this mutual interest in supporting kids and education.” Even more exciting, since the collaboration’s inception, Walsh says, “we have raised over $100,000 for Malala through both our corporate partnerships and individuals and schools that have gotten involved to do clothing drives and donate on behalf of the Malala fund.”
Through it all, Schoola has maintained its status as a clothing retailer. Partnerships with high-end brands such as Athleta, a luxury activewear line, create much buzz and traffic around the site. According to Walsh, Athleta “approached us about partnering because they really wanted to get involved in and support what Malala was doing.” By featuring brand new Athleta pieces at 70 percent off the retail price, the impact is huge — and stylish. A Schoola staff favorite? The merino wool sweater.
So get shopping, Atlanta. After all, we place in Schoola’s “top 5 cities in terms of people who come and shop.”