The United Way Gift in Kind Warehouse was responsible for putting more than $23 million worth of product back into the Northwest Arkansas community last year through over 123 local nonprofit agencies, schools and churches. Agencies who are members of the Gift in Kind Warehouse are able to make appointments regularly to come shop for product that they can then distribute to the clients they serve. For more info on the United Way Gift in Kind Warehouse you can contact Kelsey at 479.303.4426.
Jones Elementary School, part of the Springdale school district, has been a Gift in Kind member agency since fall of 2015. This school has taken a different approach to distributing the Gift in Kind supplies; an approach that educates families on the importance of budgeting, financial literacy and family sustainability. The percentage of kids living in poverty at Jones Elementary is 98% and the staff believes that you must support the family in order to support the child. The school utilizes their Gift in Kind product through a program to teach parents that not everything in life is free, and that there is value in working for what you want.
Parents at Jones Elementary are payed ‘Jones Bucks’ which is a system of using fake money to gain tangible results. Parents are given ‘Jones Bucks’ for volunteering at the school as morning traffic guides, or on school party days. For each volunteer hour completed a parent will earn $50.00 in ‘Jones Bucks’. The school has implemented another program called “Parent University” that teaches parents how to speak English with the curriculum based on what the child is learning in school at the time. There are 29 parents enrolled in this course where they learn about the economy and how to balance a checkbook. When a parent attends a course, they receive ‘Jones Bucks’, but they also have to “pay “to rent their desk, and for the child care that is offered during the class through the school. Parents are then given the opportunity to shop through the product that the school received from the United Way Gift in Kind Warehouse. Items are “priced” based on need. Things that are basic needs and vital to their families well-being are reasonably priced. Things that would be considered more of a “want” than a “need” are priced higher. This system allows parents to learn about budgeting and saving.
As part of “Parent University” the school offers a “Pathway to Graduation” series for parents which educates parents on what it will take for their children to graduate. Through this program they not only learn about college credits, the benefits of graduating and the possibilities that open up to children after high school graduation. They are also able to speak freely about the dreams that THEY have for their children, the accomplishments that they want to see fulfilled and they have the support of a staff who can help make those dreams happen. As part of the Pathway to Graduation program parents will have the opportunity to speak with representatives from the University of Arkansas, NWACC and NTI about what universities have to offer, and all of the different possibilities that can be offered to high school graduates.
At United Way, we love seeing the impact that our programs have within the community. We are proud to call Jones Elementary one of our Gift in Kind agencies and are excited to see the continued positive impact that their program is having in the Springdale community. **We want to reiterate that this entire program is conducted with fake money and that no family is being charged for any of the programs or classes offered through Jones Elementary.** If you are interested in learning more about this program, or potentially interested in starting a similar program at your school or organization please contact the Jones Elementary School Principal, Melissa Fink ([email protected]).