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How a School Store Funded the Construction of an Awesome Outdoor Classroom

Four years ago, Kelly Gentry and Sarah Bosworth decided to transform an unused part of Riverside Leadership Magnet Elementary School in Wichita, Kansas into an outdoor classroom. They had a vision for a sophisticated area where students could learn about nature while being in nature.

Their PTO and their school district could not provide any funds to help with their vision so they needed to fund the outdoor classroom on their own.

That’s when they started their school store, Lion’s Den. Not only were they able to use the school store to raise funds to complete construction of the outdoor classroom, but they were also able to later help fund many more education initiatives.

How a school store funded the construction of an outdoor classroom.

Fundraising for Education

Without any outside funding from the PTO or the school district, profits from their school store have funded an outdoor classroom facility that includes a massive stage for performances, seating for four classes, state of the art composite picnic tables, a wireless weather station, a raised bed sensory garden and numerous perennial plantings.

When Lion’s Den is not fundraising for their outdoor education initiatives, they are busy “filling in the blanks” for items that are not provided for their teachers by the district or PTO. These items include iPads and other teaching aids that make the jobs and lives of teachers easier and enrich the classroom experience.

All of the hard work by Sarah and Kelly and the profits the school store generates has opened up new opportunities for the school and its students. The botanical garden they built has led to the school receiving a grant from the Kansas Parks and Wildlife Department to teach kids about wildlife habitats and eco-systems.

Furthering education with school store fundraising

Enhancing the Student Experience

Lion’s Den provides so much more than a fundraising opportunity. It provides an interactive learning environment for kids.

One of the key tenants of their store is that every child must be able to shop there. By pricing most items at only $0.25, they help kids develop a sense of ownership in the funding and building of projects. It also helps reinforce math skills taught in the classroom through counting and handling money.

Kids also take an active role in the direction of the school store by suggesting items to carry and by identifying projects they want to see happen. Kelly and Sarah will use the school store to fundraise and make these projects a reality for the kids.

How Geddes Helps School Stores Succeed

For over 90 years, Geddes has created products that kids (and adults!) love. We price our products as low as possible and constantly offer coupons and discounts so your school store can be rewarding for kids, parents and teachers and profitable for your fundraising efforts.

Kelly describes working with Geddes:

“I love Geddes! Can't say that enough! The quality is excellent as are your price points. You have a wide range of price points which is also wonderful and it is incredibly appreciated when you offer discount codes and sales. I love email alerts, too! The web site is super easy to use. On the rare occasion that I need to call, your customer service is second to none. Staff is happy and knowledgeable. Almost makes me want to phone in orders every time just to talk to them!”

On our website, we provide a 100% free School Store Manual that gives you step-by-step instruction on how to make your school store a smashing success. Additionally, we offer a number of free lesson plans structured around the school store that give you ideas on how to get students involved in the operation of a school store.

School stores help raise money for schools

Final Words

Lion’s Den has literally made dreams come true for Riverside Leadership Magnet Elementary School. Their school store has grown from a fundraising venture into an essential part of the student, parent and teacher experience that does everything from selling school supplies all the way up to arranging birthday parties thrown during the school day.

“There is no doubt that we would not have the outdoor facility that we have now without our store. We are constantly being faced with cutbacks on a local and state level and Sarah and I just won't settle for that. Opening a school store provided funding for new and much-needed educational opportunities.”

Do You Want to Start a School Store?

Starting a school store is easy! Check out our School Store Academy to get started or grab a copy of our School Store Manual! Even if you already have a school store, these resources provide numerous tips and tricks to make your store more efficient and profitable!

For another fundraising alternative for your school, please check out our Anytime Fundraiser. This is an easy and profitable program that's a great alternative to pizza, cookie dough and other traditional fundraisers.

Geddes is here to help! Please contact us at anytime with any questions, comments, suggestions or anything at all!