Educational Institutions

Classroom Central

  • Charlotte, NC
  • www.classroomcentral.org

Mission Statement

The mission of Classroom Central is to equip students living in poverty to effectively learn by collecting and distributing free school supplies.

Main Programs

  1. Free Store
  2. Mobile Free Store
  3. Classroom Up
  4. Backpacks & Basics
Service Areas

Self-reported

North Carolina

Mecklenburg, Gaston, Iredell, Union County and the city of Kannapolis in North Carolina and Lancaster County in South Carolina

ruling year

2002

Executive Director

Self-reported

Mrs. Karen Calder

Keywords

Self-reported

children, kids, education, anti-poverty, school, supplies, teachers, students

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EIN

03-0455618

 Number

1815356445

Physical Address

2116 Wilkinson Boulevard

Charlotte, NC 28208

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Professional Societies & Associations (B03)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Classroom Central's mission is to equip students living in poverty to effectively learn by collecting and distributing free school supplies. As of the close of our 2014-2015 fiscal year, Classroom Central supported over 83,000 students living in poverty in over 200 schools in six Charlotte-area school districts. The cumulative retail value of school supplies that we have provided since 2002 is over $45 million.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Free Store

Teachers from eligible schools may shop for free at our Free Store once a month throughout the academic year.  An average teacher shopping trip yields approximately $500 worth of supplies.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Budget

Program 2

Mobile Free Store

Recognizing a growing need in surrounding counties, we launched our Mobile Free Store in the fall of 2010. Once a quarter, we load up our Classroom Central box truck and deliver free school supplies to high-need schools in surrounding areas.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Budget

Program 3

Classroom Up

Teachers in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) district are able to shop online, once a month, for free school supplies. Through our great partnership with CMS, we box up the orders and CMS delivers the orders to the appropriate teacher at the appropriate school.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

None

Budget

Program 4

Backpacks & Basics

Companies and partners sponsor the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools with 100% free or reduced lunch rate. Classroom Central and the sponsor provide backpacks filled with school supplies for the entire student body, and provide their teacher with a shopping trip to the Free Store during second semester to re-fill the backpacks.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

None

Budget

Results

Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

1. Percentage of teachers reporting that Classroom Central had a positive influence on student participation.

Target Population
K-12 (5-19 years), At-risk youth, Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Connected to a Program?
Free Store
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric

2. Percentage of teachers reporting that Classroom Central had a positive influence on quality of student work.

Target Population
K-12 (5-19 years), At-risk youth, Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Connected to a Program?
Free Store
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric

3. Percentage of teachers reporting that Classroom Central had a positive influence on student behavior.

Target Population
K-12 (5-19 years), At-risk youth, Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Connected to a Program?
Free Store
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric

4. Percentage of teachers reporting that Classroom Central had a positive influence on student-teacher relationship.

Target Population
K-12 (5-19 years), At-risk youth, Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Connected to a Program?
Free Store
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric

5. Percentage of teachers reporting that providing school supplies showed students that they could count on them.

Target Population
K-12 (5-19 years), At-risk youth, Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Connected to a Program?
Free Store
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    Classroom Central's mission is to equip students living in poverty to effectively learn by collecting and distributing free school supplies. Our organization was founded in 2002 by a group of local business leaders who were concerned that a significant percentage of Charlotte, NC area students did not have access to basic school supplies. They felt that these students were disadvantaged at school since they were unable to take notes or complete homework assignments, circumstances which ultimately contributed to the students' delinquency or dropping out of school altogether. Out of that concern, and a generous contribution of seed money from the NFL's Carolina Panthers, Classroom Central was born. Although the Charlotte, NC metro area is one of the fastest growing areas of the country, there are a staggering 54% of families with school-age children in this area that live below the poverty level. This means that families have to make difficult choices when it comes to paying for housing, food, medical care, and other necessities. Surveys conducted by Classroom Central have shown that many students who live in poverty are not provided school supplies by their caregivers. In striving to accomplish our mission of collecting and distributing free school supplies, Classroom Central seeks to level the playing field for students in poverty by providing them with the same basic school supplies that their peers have. We believe that, if equipped with the necessary tools, all students have the potential to graduate high school and to positively contribute to society. We measure our success in terms of the breadth of the number of students served and the depth in value of products donated. As of the close of our 2014-2015 fiscal year, Classroom Central supported over 83,000 students living in poverty in over 200 schools within six Charlotte-area school districts. The cumulative retail value of school supplies that we have provided since 2002 is over $45 million. Our goal is to more effectively match our product donations to schools with the highest numbers of students in need. We are also modernizing our distribution methods to leverage online ordering technology, where educators can place orders on behalf of their students, and to partner with school districts which will allow us to use the existing courier routes for product distribution.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Classroom Central's success in distributing free school supplies to students in poverty requires effectiveness in several areas: obtaining donations of appropriate supply items, gaining assistance from school districts in moving the school supplies into high needs classrooms, accurate identification of schools with the highest numbers of students in poverty, maintaining effective inventory management techniques, managing a skilled volunteer workforce, and obtaining sustained funding for day-to-day operations. Individual members of the management team bear responsibility for executing upon these activities, and a highly-engaged Board of Directors oversees the staff's progress while setting the strategic direction for the organization. Annually, Classroom Central evaluates each element of the product distribution process to ensure that we are maximizing opportunities to serve students in poverty. We utilize information gained from the National School Lunch Program to help us identify schools with a high percentage of students in poverty. For a school to be considered high needs, we require that at least 50% of the students enrolled receive either free or reduced price lunches. Then, we use one of four individual product distribution channels to move school supplies from our warehouses to students in those schools. We meet with school district administrators, principals, educators, and students themselves to ensure that our programs are delivering the types of products that are most needed by those we serve. We have developed product distribution strategies to enable us to serve students in the farthest reaches of the geographic area that we serve, and have successfully implemented an online ordering program to more efficiently enable educators to obtain free supplies. Looking towards the future, we will continue to maintain relationships with donors while cultivating new relationships that will provide us with the funding and product donations required to further our mission.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Although Classroom Central receives no funding from school systems, government agencies, or the United Way, we are able to accomplish our mission by means of several key resources. As a member of the national Kids In Need Foundation network of resource centers, Classroom Central obtains essential school supply donations from national manufacturers and retailers. We have developed and continue to maintain strong relationships with local corporations and other nonprofits which provide additional product donations as well as financial contributions. A devoted volunteer workforce of 1,200 contributes over 100,000 man hours annually to Classroom Central, which supplements our core staff of 9 employees. Our long-term relationships with school districts, principals, and educators are important, since our distribution strategy is based upon school personnel obtaining supplies on behalf of students in need. Finally, we engage the public through a dedicated website and social media accounts, tools which allow us to promote our organization, share our successes, and develop strong brand awareness in the areas that we serve.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Progress on how well we are accomplishing our mission is measured both quantitatively and qualitatively. Each month, the retail value of school supplies distributed to educators in high-needs schools is calculated and reported to the Board of Directors. We track inventory and product distributions at retail value, and include these figures in our monthly and annual financial statements. Periodically, we share our product distribution figures with school superintendents during meetings which provide us an opportunity to discuss the overall effectiveness of our programs. Feedback that we receive during these meetings is supplemented with survey data that we regularly collect from educators. The information that we receive helps Classroom Central focus on specific products that students need most, and help us fine tune our delivery methods to reach students more efficiently. A May 2014 survey of 900 educators showed that Classroom Central's programs are highly effective in the following areas: 77% of respondents noted a positive impact on student test performance; 85% said that our programs have a positive impact on student behavior, 91% reported a positive influence on the timeliness and completion rate of assignments, and 93% said that our programs positively impact the quality of students' work.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    In 2002, Classroom Central was opened as a free store for teachers. At the time, this was our only product delivery method and the organization served students in poverty in one school district. Today, we have expanded our reach to six school districts, and use our original free store as one of four distinct product delivery channels. We have launched a Mobile Free Store, which allows us to visit schools in the more remote sections of our geographic service area and provide free school supplies to those students. We have developed and implemented Classroom Up, an online ordering system, in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. This program provides educators an efficient way to obtain free school supplies that are delivered to the school via existing courier routes. Also, we have launched our Backpacks & Basics program, through which corporate sponsors and Classroom Central staff give backpacks and supply kits directly to students while in the classroom. In putting our mission into action, we have increased the geographic reach of our programs, and increased the relevance of the products that we provide to students in need. Our strategic goals include further geographic expansion, implementation of Classroom Up to additional districts that we serve, and continual improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness of our product distribution programs. We will also look at more accurate ways to identify areas where our services are needed, beyond solely using free and reduced lunch percentages obtained through the National School Lunch Program. We aim to accomplish these goals while simultaneously increasing our brand awareness and satisfying the long-term financial needs of our organization.
Service Areas

Self-reported

North Carolina

Mecklenburg, Gaston, Iredell, Union County and the city of Kannapolis in North Carolina and Lancaster County in South Carolina

Social Media

Funding Needs

School supplies make up over 86% of our annual budget, but we also have operating expenses like any other nonprofit organization. Our expenses include the cost of leasing and maintaining our free store and warehouse, and providing modest but competitive compensation for our small, highly-qualified staff. Monetary gifts and grants from individuals, businesses and foundations are requested on an ongoing basis and via special events at different times of the year. We rely on this funding to cover these basic costs, and to purchase additional supplies to meet the constantly-growing need for our services. Our corporate partnerships give us the buying power to turn each donated dollar into $7.00 worth of school supplies.

Videos

External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

Classroom Central Inc
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Classroom Central

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Executive Director

Mrs. Karen Calder

BIO

Karen Calder is the founding Executive Director of Classroom Central, serving from 2002-2009. She rejoined the team in October 2015, having most recently served as the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte. While at BBBSGC, Karen led the organization to growth in contributed support as well as children served which resulted in the agency being named a finalist for Agency of the Year from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in 2013 and the Mayor's Mentoring Alliance Best Practice Agency of the Year for two consecutive years. Karen has a passion for children and education as well as a strong track record of success through her 14 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit sector.

Karen has served on the Boards of The Children's Alliance, Gateway YMCA, as well as Mass Mutual's Women's Advisory Board. She currently serves on the Board of the Charlotte Chamber's Metro Chapter. She is an alumnus of Leadership Charlotte Class 30 (2008) and was named as a WBT Radio Hometown Hero in 2007, Business Leader magazine's Women Extraordinaire in 2008 and Mecklenburg Times' 50 Most Influential Women in 2009.

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Mr. J. Blaine Jackson

NewDominion Bank

Term: July 2016 -

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization

Yes

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Yes

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Yes

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


ORGANIZATIONAL DEMOGRAPHICS

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

Gender
This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Senior Staff and Volunteers.
Race & Ethnicity
This organization reports that it does not collect this information.
Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Disability

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Diversity Strategies
No
We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
No
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
No
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
No
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
No
We have a diversity committee in place
No
We have a diversity manager in place
No
We have a diversity plan
No
We use other methods to support diversity