Burton Family Flash-Funds Hundreds of High School Club Requests

Arizona Community Foundation November 20, 2015

In a single day of flash funding, the Burton Family Foundation fulfilled all of the extra-curricular activity requests of 26 area high schools, meeting the needs of more than 100 different clubs.

Founder Christy Burton did it with just a few mouse clicks, thanks to Phoenix-based nonprofit Support My Club. The organization provides an online crowd-funding platform designed to match donors with high school clubs in need of support.

Without advance notice, Burton fully funded 694 needed items posted by all clubs at all of Maricopa County’s Title I public high schools — those with high numbers of students from low-income households.

The requests were fulfilled with $100,000 from the Burton Family Foundation, founded by Christy and her husband Daryl and organized as a supporting organization under the Arizona Community Foundation earlier this year.

“We think it’s important to celebrate the value of school-sponsored clubs and the opportunities they provide for young people,” said Christy. “After-school clubs and activities allow students to delve into specific areas of interest without the stress of homework or tests. Partnering with Support My Club provided a vehicle for our foundation to invest in this space. Our hope is that this investment empowers high school students to pursue their interests and also build positive relationships with peers and adults.”

Support My Club founder Amy Armstrong created the organization to equip students to pursue their interests, reduce sponsor and coach out-of-pocket costs, and minimize time spent on fundraising so participants can focus on their club’s activity. “Clubs and sporting activities need help to provide students with the tools to succeed in their missions,” said Armstrong. “That’s where we come in.”

At supportmyclub.org, high school groups in athletics, academics, arts and activities post their specific needs online. Requests are organized by school and by individual club so that donors can support activities or schools of personal interest.

On any given day, posted requests can range from an oven mitt for a culinary club, to a digital camera needed by the yearbook staff, to agility ladders for a soccer team, to nuts and bolts needed by the robotics club. Clubs such as the Future Business Leaders of America can post a need for full registration for a conference that members wish to attend, while athletic teams may request sponsorship for members to attend a skills camp.

Using a typical e-commerce model, donors “shop” for needs, add them to their cart, and then fund them with their tax-deductible donation. Support My Club staff then delivers the items directly to the club.

For every $100 of value received, the club completes one hour of community service as a show of gratitude and paying forward the community support, thereby continuing the circle of philanthropy.

The importance of equal access to extracurricular activities for all students is well-documented. According to a January 2015 national study, “The Engagement Gap: Social Mobility and Extracurricular Participation Among American Youth,” income-based differences in extracurricular participation are on the rise, and these differences greatly affect later life outcomes.

“While upper- and middle-class students have become more active in school clubs and sports teams over the past four decades, their working-class peers have become increasingly disengaged and disconnected, particularly since their participation rates started plummeting in the ’90s,” noted a recent article in The Atlantic.

Burton and Armstrong want to change the trend. “Research continually shows that structured after-school activities work to engage students, keep them in school, and keep them from participating in risky behaviors,” said Armstrong.

The Burtons hope their flash funding inspires other donors to visit supportmyclub.org and meet a need — whether that is purchasing just one item or fulfilling a school’s entire wish list.

The Arizona Community Foundation, established in 1978, is a statewide family of charitable funds supported by thousands of Arizonans. With five regional offices serving communities across Arizona, ACF is among the top 35 community foundations in the nation with more than $770 million in trust and endowment assets, and is confirmed in compliance with the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations. Last year, ACF and its affiliates awarded more than $45 million in grants and scholarship funding to some 3,000 nonprofit organizations, schools and government agencies.

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