For years, all across North America, we have seen school district funding fluctuate with the economy. Loss of programs, overcrowded class rooms and outdated facilities have been just a few of the issues many districts have been facing. In the early 2000’s, we really stared to see a trend taking off. The success found for both corporations and school districts through sponsorship has continued to propel like-minded groups to follow suit.
In the past many have looked at these types of partnerships with skepticism, most worrying about oversaturating our schools with corporate initiatives. As these relationships have become more popular, we have seen a drastic shift in perspective and with this shift has come a rapid increase in benefits for both parties involved and their surrounding communities.
One of the trendsetting districts to increase revenue through corporate partnerships was a school district in Indiana. “The nonprofit Penn-Harris-Madison Education Foundation has signed deals that will bring the school district, which includes 11 public high schools in Northern Indiana, more than $600,000 in added revenue in the coming years. The district sold off the naming rights to football stadiums, baseball fields and even a music room”. (Chicago Tribune)
There is an undisputable increase in visibility for corporations within this industry and in turn a massive increased local customer base. The ability to tailor involvement and specifically target demographics, corporations are creating new exposure elements implementing more activation, and in turn maximizing brand awareness of products and services. Additionally, the corporation also gets real chance to make a difference by committing much needed funding to help enhance the community in which they serve.
Back in 2004 Judith Thomas, marketing director for the National Federation of State High School Associations stated: “Corporate involvement at the high school level is about to explode nationwide. It is an unlimited, untapped market and it is in places companies often can’t easily reach (” Pennington”).
In 2005 When Safeway donated $50,000 to a San Francisco School District after around 200 teachers were laid off, their Public Affairs manager Teena Massingill stated: “Giving back to the community is a pleasure and a responsibility,” (McCollum”).
A lot of times, when partnering with a school district the exposure will extend throughout the high school campus parks and facilities increasing the ability to reach every resident within the district. This creates a real win-win opportunity for quick return on investment. Beyond the benefits listed above, corporate partners truly get a chance to make a difference by benefiting not only the community but also the students through the creation of scholarships, mentoring programs and increased fundraising efforts/opportunities. Residence of the community (consumers) will take all of these elements into account when forming opinions about corporate sponsors.
For example, Sweetwater Union High School District, in the San Diego area, has made sponsorship contracts with nearly 300 national and local businesses. This money has gone directly into their sports programs, specifically creating freshman teams and allowed for intramural teams to develop at the middle school level, (“McCollum”).
Moving forward we hope to see this industry trend continue to grow alongside the communities they reside in.