(NewsUSA) - Gearing up for back-to-school season is no longer just about new backpacks, teacher assignments and school supply lists. For schools, summer is also a reminder that they have their work cut out for them in trying to secure additional funding to provide students with the best possible education.
But while schools themselves have many ways to fundraise and advocate for expanded federal, state and local budgets, it's parents who increasingly find themselves turning to innovative programs like Box Tops for Education to raise money for things like classroom supplies, technology, field trips and playground equipment. In fact, since its inception in 1996 -when only a select few General Mills cereals were part of a test launch - Box Tops for Education has raised more than $913 million for 70,000-plus schools just by paying 10 cents for every clip submitted from what's now a long list of participating food and household products.
Even better, a new app has simplified the entire process.
No longer do parents, teachers and other community members have to cut out and then physically drop off dozens, or even hundreds, of Box Tops clips at their local school. Instead, they're now able to use the Box Tops for Education app - downloadable for free via iTunes App Store and Google Play - to scan their receipts from any retailer right on their smartphones.
The app automatically recognizes participating products, and funds are instantly added to your chosen school's earnings online. Twice each year, schools receive a check from Box Tops for Education to buy whatever they need.
"When Box Tops for Education began 23 years ago, clipping and mailing Box Tops was the best way for us to run the program," said Erin Anderson, Box Tops for Education's platform manager. "But over the years, technology has advanced at incredible rates, opening up all kinds of new opportunities. By going digital, we will be able to create efficiencies in our fulfillment processes, better understand the health of the program, show supporters their contributions in real time, and attract more brands to participate."
Convenience aside, shoppers using the app have two big advantages:
* The ability to see for themselves, right on the app, how their shopping habits directly impact their schools.
* A chance to win one of five $20,000 makeovers for their school by scanning receipts containing at least one participating product between now and November 15, 2019.
Receipts must be scanned within 14 days of purchase. And as the program fully transitions to a digital format, traditional Box Top clips found on packaging will still be accepted until they expire.
And, yes, "double dipping" is allowed. Meaning, for a limited time only during the packaging transition, savvy shoppers can earn double the cash by submitting traditional Box Top clips to their school's coordinator and also scanning receipts containing participating items through the app. Those without smartphones are encouraged to give their receipts to a friend, neighbor or family member to be scanned on their behalf.