Schoola turns closet cleaning into cash for schools

Schoola, San Francisco, school fundraising, Arizona
A Schoola donation drive in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Schoola.

Talk about a good reason to clean out the closets! A new school-fundraising tool offers just the incentive you need.

Schoola is an online clothing exchange program that helps families raise money for schools by doing something we all should be doing anyway.

Inspiration for the online exchange came from a mom who saw a need at her own child’s school, according to Schoola Vice President Megan Walsh. “San Francisco mom Stacey Boyd had the revelation for the company when she was cleaning out her daughter’s closet and thought, ‘Let’s put these clothes to work.’”

The idea behind the site is simple: Individuals or schools gather gently used clothing, send it to Schoola and profit from the sale of those items.

“The school receives 40 percent of the profits from the items sold, less the cost of the postage or the courier,” Walsh says. Schoola sells the clothes on its website, offering 70 to 90 percent savings on comparable retail.

The company has been operating since the spring of 2014 and has 200 employees, including its warehouse staff.

Twenty-two thousand schools across the country have used Schoola. Some of the top-earning schools have made $80,000 in the last two years, according to Walsh.

Schoola, Awakening Seed School, Phoenix, Arizona, school fundraising
Cheri Smilanick, who organizes Awakening Seed’s Schoola campaign, with her daughter, Antonia.

In Arizona, 470 schools participate. Awakening Seed School, a private preschool and K-4 elementary school in Phoenix, is one of them.

Cheri Smilanick, of Chandler, whose daughter attends Awakening Seed, loves the program. She’s the organizer behind the school’s drive.

“Asking for extra money is always hard, because parents are already paying tuition,” she says. She believes fundraising through Schoola works because of its simplicity: “We’ve raised quite a bit with minimal effort.”

How to use Schoola

  • Individuals can request a postage-paid mailer bag. The company mails you the bag, you fill it up with clothes, seal it and leave it for the mail carrier. When Schoola receives your package, the items are photographed and go up for sale on its online shop.
  • Schools can host a clothing drive. Once the drive concludes, a courier picks up the donations and they’re processed at the company warehouse.

Awakening Seed chose the second method—and plans to use it again. The school raised nearly $2,500 from the first drive and plans to improve on that with the next one.

Walsh says kids and parents love the approach because they can track their school’s fundraising progress on their Schoola web page. By including an email address, donors can also track individual items they send to find out if they sell.

Learn more about Schoola.

Schoola, Awakening Seed, Phoenix, Arizona, school fundraising
Awakening Seed donations boxed up and ready to ship to Schoola. Photo courtesy of Awakening Seed School.