With the launch of the BNI Foundation’s Business Voices movement in August, 2014, more excitement, energy and support has been building within BNI than ever before for the great work we have been doing over the past 18 years in children’s education. As a result of the enthusiastic reaction, we plan to begin supporting Business Voices with our Givers Gain Grants program.

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Let me tell you what that really means.

The BNI Foundation will continue to make mini-grants directly to teachers to support the valuable work they are doing in the classroom. Too many teachers spend too much of their own hard-earned cash to equip their classrooms. We know that is true from what we have learned from the many BNI members who have been teachers, are married to teachers or have teachers for parents or children. Not enough corporations are reaching in to the classrooms and helping the teachers with these needs. We know that, too.

Since its inception in 1998, the BNI Foundation has donated over $3 million to non-profit organizations around the world. We are extremely proud of that track record and want to see that number multiply exponentially in the coming years.

We are asking members to continue referring teachers to the BNI Foundation, and we want to THANK the many members who have already done so. We are also asking members to make an effort to identify the schools who need our help the most and join our Business Voices movement by finding out how your chapter can help these schools in a hands-on way, right at the local, community level.

Here’s what that looks like:

Our good friend and staunch Business Voices advocate, Glen Coleman (read about his chapter’s shoe drive), went to a local public school in Winston-Salem, NC, to find out how his BNI chapter might be able to help with their specific needs.

It turned out that the school had been struggling to develop a strong website and other marketing collateral, so they could compete for students with the charter schools in the area. Of course, every great BNI chapter has a web designer, graphic designer and printer (hey, that sounds like a great contact sphere!), so this was an easy thing for which the chapter could provide support.

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 3.30.34 PMRecently, I did this myself at Fulmore Middle School in Austin. I learned they need to have a community day with a focus on campus beautification, specifically with their school grounds. “Kids take more pride in their school when it is a nice environment,” Principal Lisa Bush shared with me. Spring is a great time for yard clean-up, so Ivan and I are putting a date on the calendar, inviting local BNI members to come out with us and spruce things up.

Who knew spring cleaning could also be a networking opportunity?!

This is how simple it can be to bring the Business Voices movement to your community. Follow these “3+1” (cute, huh? Remember 3+1=Member Success?) simple steps and watch the magic unfold:

  1. Ask for a referral to a local school principal by name (you can easily Google the schools and find the names of all the principals). You will most likely have someone in your chapter who knows that person OR has a contact who will know him/her.
  1. Make an appointment to meet with the principal to learn what the school’s top five problems are. This process works best if your referral partner joins you for the meeting. Principals are very protective of their students and campus, and they won’t understand why you are there, since no one has probably ever come in from the business community to ask, “How can we help you?”
  1. Take these issues back to your next chapter meeting to determine which ones of the five (or maybe all five!) your chapter’s members might be able to help out with and which ones can be supported by a Givers Gain Grant.

+1. Share the stories that emerge from this collaboration with the school with us. This will inspire more chapters, members and business owners to join our movement.

That’s all it takes to begin plugging in to the schools in your community!

And finally I would like to come once more to our friend, Glen Coleman, who said about Business Voices that events in his life “brought me to the place where I was actually waiting for this opportunity.”

What about you? Do you find this is true for you, as well?

get_involvedPlease join the Business Voices movement at http://www.BusinessVoices.org by showing your support with your name, city, state, and country for our people counter.

You will not be signing up for an email-marketing list when you join the movement (we do not put you into any CRM program). You will, however, receive a personal thanks from me and Ivan for your support. I am personally responding to each and every person who stands with us.

If you have any further questions about the Givers Gain Grant program or Business Voices, please email me: BethMisner@bni.com.

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