Elementary School Beautified with Redbud Trees

Members of the BNI University Morning B chapter in the Charlotte region volunteered their time and talent to the students of Winecoff Elementary, a title 1 school. They provided guidance and direction for a beautification project that included planting two Eastern Redbud trees, lining them with pavers, and filling them with mulch.

Teachers at Winecoff Elementary had the idea of helping kids understand the value of work, self-pride and ownership. A group of BNI members sprung into action. The teachers did not want the chapter to do the work or pay for the materials, but rather to help plan and execute their idea.

Bobbi Craig represented the school and provided a point of contact between the parents, students and other department heads to define the parameters and get approvals. As more people and kids arrived, they were gathered and instructed on what to do. The kids worked hard and were able to enjoy the feeling of self pride that comes with  accomplishing goals as a team. The BNI members helped to oversea this project and to make it a huge success! Congratulations to all involved. See more photos here.

Get involved! Our Business Voices tool kit will help you put together a team and includes project ideas to help the schools in your community.

Mrs. Stay’s 4th Grade Class CLUB

After Mrs. Stay’s 4th grade class was awarded a Givers Gain Grant to purchase a class library, Mrs. Stay, wife of BNI Executive Director and Chairman Emeritus of the BNI Foundation Board, Jeff Stay, showed her nine-year-old students the BNI Connect 5 2016 film to explain more about what the foundation is and how the foundation builds a conduit between business and education.

When these children realized how many kids around the world have serious needs, some of them became tearful. They told Mrs. Stay they wanted to each begin bringing a dollar a month to school so their class could be a BNI Foundation Monthly Hero.
She asked them to each write a compelling letter home to their parents to get permission. Each child’s parent(s) agreed! Now, these amazing kids exhibit extraordinary leadership and social responsibility by bringing $1 per month to which Mrs. Stay adds the difference so the class can be a BNI Foundation Monthly Hero at $50 per month.

When BNI Foundation co-founders, Beth and Ivan Misner, learned what an entire class of nine-year-olds is doing, they knew this was too amazing to go unnoticed.

So, Mrs. Stay’s 4th Grade Class CLUB was born, and what better way to kick off this giving season then by asking your BNI Chapter to Join the CLUB to acknowledge their leadership and how inspiring they are, as kids, to us, as grown-ups.  We would love your BNI Chapter* to become BNI Foundation Super Hero ($100 per month). Every chapter that participates will help us send more grants to more teachers and impact more kids’ lives in your communities. 

It’s that simple!


Please tell Mrs. Stay’s class: YES! Our Chapter will Join the CLUB today! 

As Mrs. Stay’s 4th graders have proven, our Givers® Gain culture can truly make a difference.

Let’s take the lead from these 9-year-old students and show them what we can do to make their educational experiences better!  

* Each chapter’s members only need to donate a few dollars per month for most Chapters to reach the Super Hero ($100+ per month) level.

Terms: Mrs. Stay’s 4th Grade Class CLUB will be running from Giving Tuesday, November 28, 2017, through April 1, 2018. The region with the highest percentage of chapters that Join the CLUB will receive a special, personal visit from BNI Foundation Co-Founder, Beth Misner, and BNI Foundation Board Chair, Kevin Barber, to participate in an outreach project for a school in YOUR community and a regional social event with YOUR BNI members. In the case of multiple chapters achieving the highest percentage of participation, a drawing will be held to select the winning BNI region. All chapters who Join the Club will receive a BNI Foundation badge ribbon for each member.

20 Years of Giving Fundraiser

The BNI Foundation kicked off Global Convention activities in style with a fundraiser to celebrate its twenty year anniversary! Everyone involved with the foundation was invited to the event which took place on the evening of November 8th in Long Beach, CA.

BNI Foundation co-founders Beth and Ivan Misner, Executive Director, Stephanie Starr,  staff, volunteers and Board members mingled as they enjoyed food, drinks and live a-cappella entertainment by Swingline. Also on hand to speak was award-winning film producer/director/writer, Barnet Bain. The evening was capped off with a silent auction.

Red Coats, Inc. generously sponsored the event which was graciously hosted by Margie and Emory Cowan, long time BNI Foundation supporters who truly embody the principle of Givers Gain®.

View a gallery of photos from the event here.

Organizational Shift at BNI Foundation Board

The BNI Foundation Board of Directors is excited to announce a recent organizational shift. We are positioning the foundation for an amazing 20th year in 2018. Effective immediately, our current, and founding, Board Chair, Jeff Stay, is named Chairman Emeritus of the BNI Foundation. The Executive Committee of the Board has asked Jeff to serve the BNI Foundation as the Development Chair to mobilize his social capital within BNI, and to help us cultivate the relationships we need in order to grow. Jeff is excited to serve in this new capacity.

The Executive Committee has also appointed Kevin Barber, BNI Foundation D-A-CH Founder and BNI Executive Director, to step into the role of BNI Foundation Board Chair. Furthermore, David Kauffman, BNI Managing Director and Senior Director Consultant, has stepped into the role of BNI Foundation Vice Chair. The Board offers its thanks to Andy Hart, our most recent Board Vice Chair, for his service to our board in this role and the time he spent to share his advice and counsel. We also thank our Chairman Emeritus, Jeff Stay, for setting a high bar for the incoming Board Chair and serving as our founding Board Chair with all of his heart.

These adjustments have been carefully made with thoughtful consideration of how to move forward in 2018. We are excited that these changes will bring even more success to the foundation, allowing us to have an even stronger impact on the youth of our communities. Expanding our Executive Committee will give us the edge we need to continue the legacy of the BNI Foundation’s co-founders, Beth and Ivan Misner.

$10,000 Raised for Children’s Shelter

BNI member Jim McLemore, of A-Tec Office Solutions Inc., hosted a successful fundraiser for the Haven of Peace Children’s Shelter in Stockton, California. Thanks to the assistance provided by fellow members of the BNI Stockton Business Partners chapter in the Central Valley region, the event raised $10,000 for Haven of Peace.

Haven of Peace offers shelter, counseling, education and other forms of assistance to mother’s and children in need. They opened their doors in 1959.

BNI California Central Valley Executive Directors, John and Eva Lisle were the proud sponsors of this event. The donation of time, talent and treasure from this California region is truly appreciated.

BNI Foundation Welcomes New Board Members

The BNI Foundation has recently added four new members to its board of directors, bringing the total to nine members. Joining Chairman Jeff Stay, Vice Chairman Andy Hart, Treasurer Michael Walchonski, Co-founder and Secretary Beth Misner and board member Graham Weihmiller, are four BNI leaders from around the world.

Kevin Barber oversees over 1,200 members in South-West Germany’s 39 chapters, the first of which he started himself in 2005. Kevin is also the BNI Foundation’s Global Special Envoy and is responsible for the Foundation’s operations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Shelli Howlett is one of the few female BNI Executive Directors running multiple large regions. Her geographic area includes Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio, Texas where there are 2,700 members in 105 chapters.

David Kauffman acts as Managing Director and Senior Director Consultant for the BNI Delaware Valley Region, which encompass 5 states and 125 chapters. David has years of experience serving boards of charitable organizations and also founded and operates the Adaptive Aquatic program for the Haverford, PA YMCA.

Jeremy Walsh is the Worldwide Director of Support, Training and Documentation for BNI Connect. Jeremy and his team set up BNI Connect’s self-help forums, which see 52,000 visits a month from members searching its comprehensive library of hundreds of training materials.

We are excited to have these accomplished members of the BNI family join us in their leadership roles at the BNI Foundation and are looking forward to accomplishing great work with their guidance. You can learn more about the BNI Foundation’s board of directors by clicking here.

Video Contest Winner “Day with the Misner’s”

Earlier this year, Josh Perry of FusionForge Consultants won the video contest meant to highlight the impact adults can have on children. Each submission was a video “testimonial” in which the contestant described an adult who significantly influenced their life. Josh’s winning video was about a volunteer named Ray who brought knowledge, passion and excitement to a Junior Achievement economics course he taught at Josh’s high school.

First prize was a day with Ivan and Beth Misner in Austin, TX. Josh and his wife Kay Perry had the opportunity to spend the day with the Misners at their home.

The day started with breakfast at Trace Restaurant in downtown Austin.

Next was a trip to the Farmer’s Market, also in downtown Austin. There they purchased food from the Misner Plan for lunch.

That was followed by a long boat ride on Lake Austin.

The rest of the afternoon was spent floating and hanging out at the Misner’s pool where they had lunch.

The day ended with a wine tasting and dinner at Cru Restaurant in downtown Austin.

Congratulations to Josh Perry and his wife Kay. It looks like a great time was had by all.

BNI Sacramento School Supply Drive

In August, just before the beginning of the school year, members of the BNI Riverside Executives chapter in Sacramento, California invited Principal Greg Barge of Earl Legette Elementary School to their chapter meeting. They had a surprise. Chapter members had collected over $1000 worth of school supplies to donate to the school. The supplies, as well as thirty new backpacks, went to the students of teacher Rory McClure’s fourth grade class.

Business Voices has had a successful back to school season. Supply drives like the one put together by BNI Riverside Executives, are a great way to support our local students and schools. Remember, due to budget constraints, school districts often cannot provide teachers and students with everything they need, placing the financial burden on students’ parents and the teachers themselves. Back to school time may be the most obvious time for supply drives, but supplies are needed in the fall, after the winter break and throughout the school year.

Peck Elementary School Supply Drop-off

BNI Gate City teamed up with Volvo Financial Services to provide much needed school supplies for the students of Peck Elementary school in Winston Salem, NC. Volvo Financial Services has been a big supporter of the Business Voices initiative for years. In addition to supply drives like this, Volvo Financial Services donates $5,000 to the school every year. Those funds have gone to improve technology in Peck Elementary’s classrooms.

And now there is another surprise! Volvo Financial Services has committed to having all of the Peck Elementary third graders visit their facility on a field trip where Volvo leaders will speak to the kids and take them on a tour. While there, the students will have the opportunity to explore a  large Volvo truck.

Congratulations to BNI Gate City for their successful partnership with the folks at Volvo Financial Services. By working  together and sharing their time, talents and treasure, they have had a positive impact on the students of a local school.

Fill My Ride at BNI SWFL

Fill My Ride at BNI SWFL

The next successful Business Voices® Fill My Ride event took place on August 4th. Members from BNI BizNet of the South West Florida region gathered supplies for students at Six Mile Charter Academy in Fort Myers. Enough school supplies for more than 50 children were delivered to the school in the back of a large pick-up truck. Upon arrival, BIzNet members were enthusiastically met by faculty members as well as the school’s wildcat mascot.

“There were enough supplies donated to help out 50+ students whose families were not able to fulfill the extensive supply list for the new school year,” said BNI BizNet member Matthew Colla. The school’s Dean of Students was able to disburse the supplies to the specific families most in need of them.

Congratulations to all who participated in this much needed program, and thank you for sharing your story with everyone.

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