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Homeschool Business Partnerships

By David Ayers
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #7, 1994.

What are the benefits of business funding for homeschooling?
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Dr. David Ayers

Family Educators Alliance of South Texas (FEAST), 4719 Blanco Rd., San Antonio, TX 78212. (210) 692-7214. Contact: Ruth Perez.

FEAST has been in existence for about ten years. It provides scholarships and serves as a resource center for homeschoolers. San Antonians can come there to examine and buy curriculum products. Standardized testing is available through FEAST for a price.

FEAST has workshops covering every facet of homeschooling. In addition, they host a homeschool sports-team program and an orchestra. They also organize and run their city’s annual homeschool book fair. And they will provide information, help, and referrals to any homeschoolers who call.

The major corporate backing FEAST has attracted makes much of this possible. Substantial funding is provided by James Leininger, a corporate Chief Executive Officer who is also involved in the CEO Foundation—a group that provides money for inner city children to pay for tuition in private schools.

For more information about FEAST, including how they operate and the ways in which they have obtained and kept corporate support, call Ruth Perez. She has a model of business-homeschool partnership to be proud of, and would be happy to speak with you about it.

Christian Worldview Library, 700 East 37th Street N., Wichita, KS 67201. (316) 832-3319. Fax: (316) 832-3271. Contact: Becky Elder—Proprietor, or Joyce Templeton—Librarian.

CWL rose out of homeschooling-parents Philip and Becky Elders’ desire in 1988 for a comprehensive library to provide resources for their own family. Their vision has grown to include many more families and many more services. For an annual fee of $25, homeschoolers can borrow from over 6,000 books and other resources. They can also use the Love Box Company gymnasium and swimming pool, and even attend fitness classes at Love! Members receive regular catalogues and updates, as well as a three-ring binder within which to keep them.

All this was made possible by generous grants of space, staff, equipment, and dollars by Becky’s father, Robert Love, the owner and CEO of Love Box.

Corporations often have facilities they can share. For example, says Becky, it is not unusual for companies to have good computer facilities with plenty of unused room to accommodate outside users. Love Box shares their computing facilities with CWL—without disruption to either. So be creative!

Becky is quick to point out that she can probably do little to help homeschoolers learn how to appeal to corporations for help “cold,” since hers was a unique situation. Not only did she happen to have a father who owned a big company, but Robert Love is not the average corporate CEO! He authored and published a book in 1973 entitled How to Start Your Own School for people who were “fed up with public education” and who wanted to “rescue their children from the evils of public education.”

Becky and her father can share how they have dealt with common dilemmas that arise in business-homeschool partnerships because of regulations or other practical obstacles. In Wichita, for example, the zoning commission gave them trouble about creating an educational resource center on an industrial site. This is an issue likely to come up frequently among those seeking to make corporate facilities available to homeschoolers. They partially solved this by making the CWL services available to employees, too—and thus part of Love’s “employee relations” program.

If you own a company, or lead a homeschool group, and want to see how a business-homeschool partnership can work, give Becky Elder or Joyce Templeton a call. They’d love to hear from you.

National, Corporate-Backed, School-Reform

Almost all the large national organizations are focused entirely on public school “reform.” There was, however, one excellent possibility I was able to uncover, which functions nationally, and has solid big-business backing.

The National Association of Partners in Education (NAPE), 209 Madison Street, Suite 401, Alexandria, VA 22314. (703) 836-4880; fax: (703) 836-6941. Contact: Janet Cox.

Janet Cox tells me that NAPE has usually helped with business-school collaboration with the public schools. But they also do projects with private schools. And NAPE is not averse to working with homeschoolers. Cox told me that they haven’t done so yet only because “no homeschoolers have asked.”

NAPE provides leadership in bringing together educators, businesses, community organizations, and citizen groups who want to work together to help schools. Their database lists interested parties from each of these sectors, around the country. Ask them for help and they may point you to a CEO in your city specifically interested in, say, funding and helping private, radical educational reform. There must be a few Robert Loves in your community!

NAPE has affiliate organizations (for example, the Ohio Association of Partners in Education) in over 30 states. They can refer you to trained NAPE affiliates in your area. And NAPE is backed by about 70 major corporations.

NAPE has tons of experience and training materials to help you set up successful business-education partnerships. These are available to you and to any people you partner with. Their materials are designed for public or private schools, but most of this information would be just as useful to homeschool groups. Available materials include scores of books, pamphlets, and videos—not to mention knick-knacks to use as incentives for people who help you, such as t-shirts, lapel pins, and flags.

Finally, NAPE hosts training seminars all over the country. Get on their mailing list and you, and those you partner with, can attend. Janet says she would love to see homeschoolers represented at NAPE workshops. Why not put this on the calendar of sympathetic business and homeschool leaders in your community?

Join NAPE as a volunteer for $15, or as the leader of an organization for $75. Larger business, community, or educational organizations (such as your regional home school association) can join for $250/year.

Companies Specializing in Grants to Local
Educational Initiatives

The most productive approach for homeschoolers is to seek partnerships at the local level with small to mid-sized companies in your own communities. Start with business owners, or those close to them, in your homeschool group. Then get involved with organizations like the Kiwanis, the Lion’s Clubs, and the Chamber of Commerce. Big churches with sympathetic pastors can also help you locate sympathetic business leaders.

However, local initiatives do not mean you can’t get funds from big companies as well, particularly if you already have the support of area businesses. We at PHS will be compiling a list of large businesses that are “homeschool friendly” over the next months, and will share it with you in a future issue.

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