Monday, November 7, 2011

Box Tops for Education

If you didn't catch it, my first little bundle of joy is now in school (second bundle of joy is still in utereo kicking my bladder).  With school comes a whole new world for parents, of course.  New things to know.  But whether or not your child is in school yet, there is a wonderfully easy way to contribute to your community's schools.  All you have to do is keep shopping for all the stuff you were going to shop for anyhow.  Yup, that's it.

What piqued my interest in all of this was all those labels on the food in my pantry saying that it was a Box Top for Education.  Being a responsible parent now, I am very interested in Education with a capital "E" and what I can do to help.

General Mills launched "Box Tops for Education" (a.k.a. BTFE) back in 1996.  Since then they have given over $400 million towards schools in the country.  Schools can get up to $60,000 towards educational materials just from you shopping.  (There are 3 distinct programs to help your school earn points and from each program a school is eligible for up to $20,000.)  The money can be used by the school how they wish provided it go towards educational materials.  The catch: the amount of money each school gets depends on US.  As in YOU and ME.

All you have to do is shop.

So here's how it works, and it's simpler than you think: 

Step One: Head online to create a free account for yourself. You start the entire process by determining which school you will contribute to.  Only schools registered with BTFE will show up, and you can only select a school already registered.  Most elementary, middle, and high schools (public and private) are on there, though.  If your child is in a preschool program, you will most likely not have the option to pick it.  In which case, you can either work with your school to help them get registered (be a leader!) or you can pick the elementary school your child will go to eventually (invest in the future) and contribute to the preschool by....

Step Two: Shop and earn.  You have 3 different ways to do this:

1. Clip all those Box Tops for Education labels you see on your cereal boxes and bread flour and giving them to your school.  Pretty much every school has a system in place to collect them.  Some schools have coordinators that the box tops are sent to, some schools have "drives" where students are asked to save them all at home and bring them in on one big collection day, some schools even have rewards for students collecting the most box tops, some schools hand out cute fliers for you to post your box tops to that month.  Ask your school for details.

Note that simply purchasing a box top product at the grocery store does nothing for your school of choice.  If that pretty box top ends up in your recycling bin (oh yeah, we're PC), then it is lost points for your school.  You do have to clip them, save them, and send them in.

2. Shop online through the BTFE marketplace and your online account will automatically credit the school you have chosen: (shops include Best Buy, Disney Store, Gap & Baby Gap, KMart, LEGO, LeapFrog, Macy's, Nordstrom's, Old Navy, Target, Sears, Land of Nod, Walmart, and so many more).  The school you selected when you set up your account will automatically get eBoxTops.  Come one, you were about to do some Christmas shopping at some of those places anyways, right?

3. Buy books from Barnes & Noble online:  This is their entire online selection and also includes items for the Nook. Again, the school you selected when you set up your account will automatically get eBoxTops.

The amount of money that comes to the schools per each box top isn't huge.  In fact, it ends up only being 6 - 10 cents per box top you send in.  However, do not knock it folks!  Do you know how quickly it can add up?  Do you know how many boxes of Chex we go through in my house per month?  Already this school year some of the schools near me have racked up $1,500 - $2,000.  That's not a shabby contribution to a school for doing nothing but shopping for stuff you were going to buy anyways.

By the way, if you needed more incentive, when you create your account you also will get access to coupons for popular products (like Honey Nut Cheerios, Chex, Bisquick, cake mixes (tis the season!), and refrigerated doughs) to use on your next grocery store run.  Which, of course, you can then clip the box tops on to send on to your schoo.

General Mills' Box Tops for Education Program


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